When Mark Zuckerberg first introduced Facebook to the world, it was nothing but a platform to connect people. But soon the social media platform became a phenomenon. It became so integrated into our social lives that even companies started to use it for marketing and customer engagement. It’s now emerging that these companies may have been affected as a result of a security breach at Facebook’s computer systems. Facebook announced last Friday that hackers had accessed account entry keys for over 50 million users. This is the largest Facebook hack in nearly 14 years.
However, the impact could go beyond the 50 million accounts. The stolen entry keys may have been used to gain entry into other sites. The reason for this is simple. Facebook gives people the option to login into other websites using their Facebook accounts. In essence, if a hacker is able to steal access credentials for a Facebook account, he or she may be able to login into other sites outside Facebook using the same details.
The recent hacking incident has of course raised concerns around the world. Many privacy experts believe that any hacking that affects Facebook gets magnified simply because the social media company has grown to become central in people’s lives. Many companies that use Facebook Connect to allow users to log in to their websites are now investigating to see whether the hack had any effect on their services. A statement released by Tinder, a dating app that allows users to sign up with Facebook, noted that an investigation is underway to determine if the stolen access keys were used on its platform. The company said that so far there’s no evidence to suggest that there was a breach. Uber, another company that uses Facebook Connect, also said that it had logged out a number of accounts on its platform as part of cautionary measures to protect affected users. So far no company has reported any breach.
Facebook Connect has been promoted as a simple and faster way for people to use apps. For many app developers, the feature gives them immediate access to millions of potential users. Facebook notes that users are more likely to sign up for new apps if the process is easy and quick. This is why Facebook Connect has become so popular. However, the privacy risks of this feature became apparent in July 2017 when hackers exploited software bugs on Facebook to access tokens. Access tokens are basically digital keys that are used to gain access to a user’s account. Once the hackers had the tokens, they could do anything with the Facebook account including logging in to other connected apps.
The latest hack incident appears to be the same. Nonetheless, Facebook noted that they didn’t find any evidence that the stolen access tokens had been used to access other third-party accounts. The social media giant also said that it doesn’t know at the moment the extent of the breach or who’s responsible for it. The hack comes at a time when Facebook is facing backlash from regulators after another data breach was reported at the beginning of the year.