Bloomberg reports that the personal data belonging to more than half a billion Facebook users was discovered online for free reminding them that while Facebook has no problem collecting tons and tons of data, the social network continues to have difficulties protecting it. The personal information taken from 533 million Facebook users includes Facebook IDs, full names, birth dates, location data, email addresses and bios.
In an emailed statement, a Facebook spokesman said, “This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.” The problem that Facebook has is that once the data leaks out of Facebook’s network, it is basically powerless to stop it (the data) from spreading online. Back in 2019, Facebook had a “flaw” in its technology that allowed the data to leak out.
Over 500 million Facebook users have their personal data leaked for free online
On Saturday, Alon Gal, chief technology officer of cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock, discovered the data online and in a tweet, he wrote that large and rare data bases aren’t shared widely because “the people who hold it will attempt to monetize it for as long as they can. The process sometimes takes years, sometimes days, but eventually all private databases leak if they were sold around.” In another tweet, Gal stated “All 533,000,000 Facebook records were just leaked for free. This means that if you have a Facebook account, it is extremely likely the phone number used for the account was leaked. I have yet to see Facebook acknowledging this absolute negligence of your data.”
533 million Facebook users had their records leaked for free
32.3 million Americans had their data stolen while 11.52 million in the U.K. had the same thing happen to them. These data leaks negatively impact Facebook’s main business which is the gathering of user information that is then sold to advertisers; the advertisers can then deliver ads pinpointed and targeted to specific consumers who would benefit from the purchase of a particular product. Since the data made available by the breach is available online for free, why would an advertiser pay Facebook for the same exact information that they can obtain online for free?
Business Insider says that even those with “rudimentary” data skills can find the data on a hacking forum. The publication also compared known Facebook users’ phone numbers with the IDs listed. Other records were confirmed by testing email addresses found in Facebook’s password reset feature. The latter can be used to partially reveal a user’s phone number.