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Irish Regulator Fines Facebook $277 Million for Leak of Half a Billion Users' Data

Irish Regulator Fines Facebook $277 Million for Leak of Half a Billion Users' Data

Nov 29, 2022
Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC) has  levied fines  of €265 million ($277 million) against Meta Platforms for failing to safeguard the personal data of more than half a billion users of its Facebook service, ramping up privacy enforcement against U.S. tech firms. The fines follow an inquiry initiated by the European regulator on April 14, 2021, close on the heels of a leak of a "collated dataset of Facebook personal data that had been made available on the internet." This included the  personal information  associated with 533 million users of the social media platform, such as their phone numbers, dates of birth, locations, email addresses, gender, marital status, account creation date, and other profile details. Meta acknowledged that the information was "old data" that was obtained by malicious actors by taking advantage of a technique called "phone number enumeration" to  scrape users' public profiles . This entailed misusing a t
Meta Takes Down Fake Facebook and Instagram Accounts Linked to Pro-U.S. Influence Operation

Meta Takes Down Fake Facebook and Instagram Accounts Linked to Pro-U.S. Influence Operation

Nov 23, 2022
Meta Platforms on Tuesday said it took down a network of accounts and pages across Facebook and Instagram that were operated by people associated with the U.S. military to spread narratives that depicted the country in a favorable light in the Middle East and Central Asia. The network, which originated from the U.S., primarily singled out Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. The social media giant stated the individuals behind the activity impersonated the communities they targeted, propagating content in Arabic, Farsi, and Russian that floated themes of increased military cooperation with the U.S., and criticized Iran, China, and Russia. These narratives spanned "Russia's invasion of Ukraine, China's treatment of the Uyghur people, Iran's influence in the Middle East, and the support of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan by Russia and China," Meta  said  in its Quarterly Adversaria
Meta Reportedly Fires Dozens of Employees for Hijacking Users' Facebook and Instagram Accounts

Meta Reportedly Fires Dozens of Employees for Hijacking Users' Facebook and Instagram Accounts

Nov 18, 2022
Meta Platforms is said to have fired or disciplined over two dozen employees and contractors over the past year for allegedly compromising and taking over user accounts, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Some of these cases involved bribery, the publication said, citing sources and documents. Included among those fired were contractors who worked as security guards at the social media firm's facilities and were given access to an internal tool that allowed employees to help "users they know" gain access to accounts after forgetting their passwords, or had their accounts locked out. The system, called "Oops" and short for Online Operations, is off limits to a vast majority of the platform's users, leading to the rise of a "cottage industry of intermediaries" who charge users thousands of dollars and reach out to insiders who are willing to reset the accounts. "You really have to have someone on the inside who will actually do it
Facebook Detects 400 Android and iOS Apps Stealing Users Log-in Credentials

Facebook Detects 400 Android and iOS Apps Stealing Users Log-in Credentials

Oct 07, 2022
Meta Platforms on Friday disclosed that it had identified over 400 malicious apps on Android and iOS that it said targeted online users with the goal of stealing their Facebook login information. "These apps were listed on the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store and disguised as photo editors, games, VPN services, business apps, and other utilities to trick people into downloading them," the social media behemoth  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. 42.6% of the rogue apps were photo editors, followed by business utilities (15.4%), phone utilities (14.1%), games (11.7%), VPNs (11.7%), and lifestyle apps (4.4%). Interestingly, a majority of the iOS apps posed as ads manager tools for Meta and its Facebook subsidiary. Besides concealing its malicious nature as a set of seemingly harmless apps, the operators of the scheme also published fake reviews that were designed to offset the negative reviews left by users who may have previously downloaded the apps
Facebook Shuts Down Covert Political 'Influence Operations' from Russia and China

Facebook Shuts Down Covert Political 'Influence Operations' from Russia and China

Sep 28, 2022
Meta Platforms on Tuesday disclosed it took steps to dismantle two covert influence operations originating from China and Russia for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) so as to manipulate public debate. While the Chinese operation sets its sights on the U.S. and the Czech Republic, the Russian network primarily targeted Germany, France, Italy, Ukraine and the U.K. with themes surrounding the ongoing war in Ukraine. "The largest and most complex Russian operation we've disrupted since the war in Ukraine began, it ran a sprawling network of over 60 websites impersonating news organizations, as well as accounts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Telegram, Twitter, Change.org and Avaaz, and even LiveJournal," the social media behemoth  said . The sophisticated Russian activity, which commenced in May 2022, impersonated mainstream European news outlets like Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and Bild, not to mention build credibility by creating fake accounts across
Meta Cracks Down on Cyber Espionage Operations in South Asia Abusing Facebook

Meta Cracks Down on Cyber Espionage Operations in South Asia Abusing Facebook

Aug 08, 2022
Facebook parent company Meta disclosed that it took action against two espionage operations in South Asia that leveraged its social media platforms to distribute malware to potential targets. The first set of activities is what the company described as "persistent and well-resourced" and undertaken by a hacking group tracked under the moniker Bitter APT (aka APT-C-08 or T-APT-17) targeting individuals in New Zealand, India, Pakistan, and the U.K. "Bitter used various malicious tactics to target people online with social engineering and infect their devices with malware," Meta  said  in its Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report. "They used a mix of link-shortening services, malicious domains, compromised websites, and third-party hosting providers to distribute their malware." The attacks involved the threat actor creating fictitious personas on the platform, masquerading as attractive young women in a bid to build trust with targets and lure them into cl
Cytrox's Predator Spyware Targeted Android Users with Zero-Day Exploits

Cytrox's Predator Spyware Targeted Android Users with Zero-Day Exploits

May 20, 2022
Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) on Thursday pointed fingers at a North Macedonian spyware developer named Cytrox for developing exploits against five zero-day (aka 0-day) flaws, four in Chrome and one in Android, to target Android users. "The 0-day exploits were used alongside n-day exploits as the developers took advantage of the time difference between when some critical bugs were patched but not flagged as security issues and when these patches were fully deployed across the Android ecosystem," TAG researchers Clement Lecigne and Christian Resell  said . Cytrox is alleged to have packaged the exploits and sold them to different government-backed actors located in Egypt, Armenia, Greece, Madagascar, Côte d'Ivoire, Serbia, Spain, and Indonesia, who, in turn, weaponized the bugs in at least three different campaigns. The commercial surveillance company is the maker of  Predator , an implant  analogous  to that of NSO Group's  Pegasus , and is known to hav
Facebook Hit With $18.6 Million GDPR Fine Over 12 Data Breaches in 2018

Facebook Hit With $18.6 Million GDPR Fine Over 12 Data Breaches in 2018

Mar 16, 2022
The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) on Tuesday slapped Facebook and WhatsApp owner Meta Platforms a fine of €17 million (~$18.6 million) for a series of security lapses that occurred in violation of the European Union's  GDPR laws  in the region. "The DPC found that Meta Platforms failed to have in place appropriate technical and organizational measures which would enable it to readily demonstrate the security measures that it implemented in practice to protect EU users' data, in the context of the twelve personal data breaches," the watchdog  said  in a press release. The decision follows the regulator's investigation into 12  data   breach   notifications  it received over the course of a six-month period between June 7 and December 4, 2018. "This fine is about record keeping practices from 2018 that we have since updated, not a failure to protect people's information," Meta  said  in a statement shared with the Associated Press. "
Here's How to Find if WhatsApp Web Code on Your Browser Has Been Hacked

Here's How to Find if WhatsApp Web Code on Your Browser Has Been Hacked

Mar 11, 2022
Meta Platforms' WhatsApp and Cloudflare have banded together for a new initiative called Code Verify to validate the authenticity of the messaging service's web app on desktop computers. Available in the form of a Chrome and Edge  browser extension , the  open-source add-on  is designed to "automatically verif[y] the authenticity of the WhatsApp Web code being served to your browser," Facebook  said  in a statement. The goal with Code Verify is to confirm the integrity of the web application and ensure that it hasn't been tampered with to inject malicious code. The social media company is also planning to release Firefox and Safari plugins to achieve the same level of security across browsers. The system works with Cloudflare acting as a third-party audit to compare the cryptographic hash of WhatsApp Web's JavaScript code that's shared by Meta with that of a locally computed hash of the code running on the browser client. Code Verify is also meant t
Facebook Agrees to Pay $90 Million to Settle Decade-Old Privacy Violation Case

Facebook Agrees to Pay $90 Million to Settle Decade-Old Privacy Violation Case

Feb 16, 2022
Meta Platforms has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a lawsuit over the company's use of cookies to allegedly track Facebook users' internet activity even after they had logged off from the platform. In addition, the social media company will be required to delete all of the data it illegally collected from those users. The development was first reported by  Variety . The decade-old case, filed in 2012, centered around Facebook's use of the proprietary "Like" button to track users as they visited third-party websites – regardless of whether they actually used the button – in violation of the federal wiretapping laws, and then allegedly compiling those browsing histories into profiles for selling the information to advertisers. Based on the terms of the proposed settlement, users who browsed non-Facebook websites that included the "Like" button between April 22, 2010, and September 26, 2011, will be covered. "Reaching a settlement in this cas
Facebook Launches 'Privacy Center' to Educate Users on Data Collection and Privacy Options

Facebook Launches 'Privacy Center' to Educate Users on Data Collection and Privacy Options

Jan 08, 2022
Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook, on Friday announced the launch of a centralized Privacy Center that aims to "educate people" about its approach with regards to how it collects and processes personal information across its family of social media apps. "Privacy Center provides helpful information about five common privacy topics: sharing, security, data collection, data use and ads," the social technology firm  said  in a press release. The first module, Security, will offer easy access to common tools such as account security settings and two-factor authentication. Sharing will provide specifics about post visibility and settings to archive or trash old posts. Collection and Use will give users a quick glance into the type of data Meta harvests and learn how and why it's used, respectively. Lastly, the Ads section will furnish information regarding a user's ad preferences. The learning hub is expected to be initially limited to a s
Meta Sues Hackers Behind Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram Phishing Attacks

Meta Sues Hackers Behind Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram Phishing Attacks

Dec 21, 2021
Facebook's parent company Meta Platforms on Monday said it has filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. state of California against bad actors who operated more than 39,000 phishing websites that impersonated its digital properties to mislead unsuspecting users into divulging their login credentials. The social engineering scheme involved the creation of rogue webpages that masqueraded as the login pages of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, on which victims were prompted to enter their usernames and passwords that were then harvested by the defendants. The tech giant is also seeking $500,000 from the anonymous actors. The attacks were carried out using a relay service, Ngrok , that redirected internet traffic to the phishing websites in a manner that concealed the true location of the fraudulent infrastructure. Meta said the volume of these phishing attacks ramped up in volume since March 2021 and that it worked with the relay service to suspend thousands of URLs to the
Facebook to Pay Hackers for Reporting Data Scraping Bugs and Scraped Datasets

Facebook to Pay Hackers for Reporting Data Scraping Bugs and Scraped Datasets

Dec 15, 2021
Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook, has announced that it's expanding its  bug bounty program  to start rewarding valid reports of scraping vulnerabilities across its platforms as well as include reports of scraping data sets that are available online. "We know that automated activity designed to scrape people's public and private data targets every website or service," said Dan Gurfinkel, security engineering manager at Meta. "We also know that it is a highly adversarial space where scrapers — be it malicious apps, websites or scripts — constantly adapt their tactics to evade detection in response to the defenses we build and improve." To that end, the social media giant aims to  monetarily compensate  for valid reports of scraping bugs in its service and identify unprotected or openly public databases containing no less than 100,000 unique Facebook user records with personally identifiable information (PII) such as email, phone numb
Meta Expands Facebook Protect Program to Activists, Journalists, Government Officials

Meta Expands Facebook Protect Program to Activists, Journalists, Government Officials

Dec 02, 2021
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, on Thursday announced an expansion of its Facebook Protect security program to include human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and government officials who are more likely to be targeted by bad actors across its social media platforms. "These people are at the center of critical communities for public debate," said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Meta. "They enable democratic elections, hold governments and organizations accountable, and defend human rights around the world. Unfortunately this also means that they are highly targeted by bad actors." Facebook Protect , currently being launched globally in phases, enables users who enroll for the initiative to adopt stronger account security protections, like two-factor authentication (2FA), and watch out for potential hacking threats. Meta said more than 1.5 million accounts have enabled Facebook Protect to date, of which nearly 950,000 account
Facebook Postpones Plans for E2E Encryption in Messenger, Instagram Until 2023

Facebook Postpones Plans for E2E Encryption in Messenger, Instagram Until 2023

Nov 22, 2021
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, disclosed that it doesn't intend to roll out default end-to-end encryption (E2EE) across all its messaging services until 2023, pushing its original plans by at least a year. "We're taking our time to get this right and we don't plan to finish the global rollout of end-to-end encryption by default across all our messaging services until sometime in 2023," Meta's head of safety, Antigone Davis,  said  in a post published in The Telegraph over the weekend. The new scheme, described as a "three-pronged approach," aims to employ a mix of non-encrypted data across its apps as well as account information and reports from users to improve safety and combat abuse, noting that the goal is to deter illegal behavior from happening in the first place, giving users more control, and actively encouraging users to flag harmful messages. Meta had previously  outlined  plans to be "fully end-to-en
Facebook to Shut Down Facial Recognition System and Delete Billions of Records

Facebook to Shut Down Facial Recognition System and Delete Billions of Records

Nov 03, 2021
Facebook's  newly-rebranded  parent company Meta on Tuesday announced plans to discontinue its decade-old "Face Recognition" system and delete a massive trove of more than a billion users' facial recognition templates as part of a wider initiative to limit the use of the technology across its products. The Menlo Park tech giant  described  the about-face as "one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology's history." The shutdown, which is expected to take place over the coming weeks, will mean users who have previously opted into the setting will no longer be automatically recognized in Memories, photos and videos or see suggested tags with their name in photos and videos they may appear in. Furthermore, the company's Automatic Alt Text (AAT) tool, which creates image descriptions for visually impaired people, will no longer include the names of people identified in photos. Facebook's discontinuing of the program com
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