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Meta Launches Paid Ad-Free Subscription in Europe to Satisfy Privacy Laws

Meta Launches Paid Ad-Free Subscription in Europe to Satisfy Privacy Laws

Oct 31, 2023 Privacy / Online Security
Meta on Monday announced plans to offer an ad-free option to access Facebook and Instagram for users in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland to comply with "evolving" data protection regulations in the region. The ad-free subscription, which costs €9.99/month on the web or €12.99/month on iOS and Android, is expected to be officially available starting next month. The company's proposal for a subscription version of its service was  first reported  by The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. "In November, we will be offering people who use Facebook or Instagram and reside in these regions the choice to continue using these personalized services for free with ads, or subscribe to stop seeing ads," the company  said . "While people are subscribed, their information will not be used for ads." While the fee covers all linked accounts for a user, beginning March 1, 2024, the company plans to levy an additional fee
Meta Takes Down Thousands of Accounts Involved in Disinformation Ops from China and Russia

Meta Takes Down Thousands of Accounts Involved in Disinformation Ops from China and Russia

Sep 05, 2023 Social Media / Disinformation
Meta has disclosed that it disrupted two of the largest known covert influence operations in the world from China and Russia, blocking thousands of accounts and pages across its platform. "It targeted more than 50 apps, including Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, Medium, Blogspot, LiveJournal, VKontakte, Vimeo, and dozens of smaller platforms and forums," Guy Rosen, chief information security officer at Meta, said last week, describing the Chinese disinformation group. The network, which included 7,704 Facebook accounts, 954 Pages, 15 Groups and 15 Instagram accounts, is said to have been run by "geographically dispersed operators" across China, posting content about China and its province Xinjiang, criticism of the U.S, Western foreign policies, and critics of the Chinese government. Central to the activity is the sharing of spammy links, the origins of which trace back to a cluster named Spamouflage (aka DRAGONBRIDGE ) that has been
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Cracking the Code to Vulnerability Management

websitewiz.ioVulnerability Management / Cloud Security
Vulnerability management in the cloud is no longer just about patches and fixes. In this latest report, the Wiz Security Research team put vulnerability management theory into practice using recently identified vulnerabilities as examples. Get the FREE report
This Free Solution Provides Essential Third-Party Risk Management for SaaS

This Free Solution Provides Essential Third-Party Risk Management for SaaS

Nov 30, 2023SaaS Security / Risk Management
Wing Security recently announced that basic third-party risk assessment is  now available as a free product . But it raises the questions of how SaaS is connected to third-party risk management (TPRM) and what companies should do to ensure a proper SaaS-TPRM process is in place. In this article we will share 5 tips to manage the third-party risks associated with SaaS, but first...  What exactly is Third-Party Risk Management in SaaS? SaaS is rapidly growing, offering businesses convenience, swift implementations, and valuable opportunities. However, this growth introduces a security challenge where risks arise from the interconnected nature of SaaS supply chains. It is clear that before onboarding a new contractor or vendor, we need due diligence, security checks, and referrals. However, we now understand that in the SaaS domain, applications are, in fact, the go-to vendor of choice.  Let's explain: Any employee can very easily connect SaaS vendors to company data, granting them pe
Meta Set to Enable Default End-to-End Encryption on Messenger by Year End

Meta Set to Enable Default End-to-End Encryption on Messenger by Year End

Aug 23, 2023 Encryption / Privacy
Meta has once again reaffirmed its plans to roll out support for end-to-end encryption ( E2EE ) by default for one-to-one friends and family chats on Messenger by the end of the year. As part of that effort, the social media giant said it's upgrading "millions more people's chats" effective August 22, 2023, exactly seven months after it  started gradually expanding the feature  to more users in January 2023. The changes are part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's "privacy-focused vision for social networking" that was announced in 2019, although it has since encountered significant technical challenges, causing it to  delay its plans  by a year. "Like many messaging services, Messenger and Instagram DMs were originally designed to function via servers," Timothy Buck, product manager for Messenger,  said . "Meta's servers act as the gateway between the message sender and receiver, what we call the clients." However, the addition of an
Instagram's Twitter Alternative 'Threads' Launch Halted in Europe Over Privacy Concerns

Instagram's Twitter Alternative 'Threads' Launch Halted in Europe Over Privacy Concerns

Jul 05, 2023 Privacy / Social Media
Instagram Threads, the upcoming Twitter competitor from Meta, will not be launched in the European Union due to privacy concerns, according to Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC). The development was  reported  by the Irish Independent, which said the watchdog has been in contact with the social media giant about the new product and confirmed the release won't extend to the E.U. "at this point." Threads  is Meta's answer to Twitter that's set for launch on July 6, 2023. It's billed as a "text-based conversation app" that allows Instagram users to "discuss everything from the topics you care about today to what'll be trending tomorrow." It also enables users to follow the same accounts they already follow on Instagram. A listing for the app has already appeared in the  Apple App Store  and  Google Play Store , although it's yet to be available for download. The " App Privacy " section on the App Store indic
WhatsApp Upgrades Proxy Feature Against Internet Shutdowns

WhatsApp Upgrades Proxy Feature Against Internet Shutdowns

Jun 30, 2023 Privacy / Tech
Meta's WhatsApp has rolled out updates to its proxy feature, allowing more flexibility in the kind of content that can be shared in conversations. This includes the ability to send and receive images, voice notes, files, stickers and GIFs, WhatsApp told The Hacker News. The new features were  first reported  by BBC Persian. Some of the other improvements include streamlined steps to simplify the setup process as well as the introduction of shareable links to "share functioning/valid proxy addresses to their contacts for easy and automatic installation." Support for  proxy servers  was officially launched by the messaging service  earlier this January , thereby helping users circumvent government-imposed censorship and internet shutdowns and obtain indirect access to WhatsApp. The company has also made available a  reference implementation  for setting up a proxy server with ports 80, 443, or 5222 available and a domain name that points to the server's IP address.
E.U. Regulators Hit Meta with Record $1.3 Billion Fine for Data Transfer Violations

E.U. Regulators Hit Meta with Record $1.3 Billion Fine for Data Transfer Violations

May 22, 2023 Data Protection / Privacy
Facebook's parent company Meta has been fined a record $1.3 billion by European Union data protection regulators for transferring the personal data of users in the region to the U.S. In a binding decision taken by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), the social media giant has been ordered to bring its data transfers into compliance with the GDPR and delete unlawfully stored and processed data within six months. Additionally, Meta has been given five months to suspend any future transfer of Facebook users' data to the U.S. Instagram and WhatsApp, which are also owned by the company, are not subject to the order. "The EDPB found that Meta IE's infringement is very serious since it concerns transfers that are systematic, repetitive, and continuous," Andrea Jelinek, EDPB Chair,  said  in a statement. "Facebook has millions of users in Europe, so the volume of personal data transferred is massive. The unprecedented fine is a strong signal to organizati
Meta Takes Down Malware Campaign That Used ChatGPT as a Lure to Steal Accounts

Meta Takes Down Malware Campaign That Used ChatGPT as a Lure to Steal Accounts

May 04, 2023 Online Security / ChatGPT
Meta said it took steps to take down more than 1,000 malicious URLs from being shared across its services that were found to leverage OpenAI's ChatGPT as a lure to propagate about 10 malware families since March 2023. The development comes  against  the backdrop of  fake ChatGPT   web browser extensions  being increasingly used to steal users' Facebook account credentials with an aim to run unauthorized ads from hijacked business accounts. "Threat actors create malicious browser extensions available in official web stores that claim to offer ChatGPT-based tools," Meta  said . "They would then promote these malicious extensions on social media and through sponsored search results to trick people into downloading malware." The social media giant said it has blocked several iterations of a multi-pronged malware campaign dubbed  Ducktail  over the years, adding it issued a cease and desist letter to individuals behind the operation who are located in Vietna
Irish Regulators Fine Facebook $414 Million for Forcing Users to Accept Targeted Ads

Irish Regulators Fine Facebook $414 Million for Forcing Users to Accept Targeted Ads

Jan 05, 2023 Privacy / Data Protection
The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has  fined  Meta Platforms €390 million (roughly $414 million) over its handling of user data for serving personalized ads in what could be a major blow to its ad-fueled business model. To that end, the privacy regulator has ordered Meta Ireland to pay two fines – a €210 million ($222.5 million) fine over violations of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR ) related to Facebook, and a €180 million ($191 million) for similar violations in Instagram. The latest enforcement comes in the wake of concerns that the social media company used its Terms of Service to gain users' forced consent to allow targeted advertising based on their online activity. The complaints were filed on May 25, 2018, the date when GDPR came into effect in the region. It also arrives a month after the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), an independent body that oversees the consistent application of GDPR in the E.U.,  announced  that it had reached 
Facebook to Pay $725 Million to settle Lawsuit Over Cambridge Analytica Data Leak

Facebook to Pay $725 Million to settle Lawsuit Over Cambridge Analytica Data Leak

Dec 27, 2022 Data Security / Privacy
Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a long-running class-action lawsuit filed in 2018. The legal dispute sprang up in response to revelations that the social media giant allowed third-party apps such as those used by Cambridge Analytica to access users' personal information without their consent for political advertising. The proposed settlement, first  reported  by Reuters last week, is the latest penalty paid by the company in the wake of a  number  of  privacy   mishaps   through the years . It still requires the approval of a federal judge in the San Francisco division of the U.S. District Court. It's worth noting that Facebook previously sought to  dismiss the lawsuit  in September 2019,  claiming  users have no legitimate privacy interest in any information they make available to their friends on social media. The  data harvesting scandal , which  came  to  light  in March 2018, involved a
Facebook Cracks Down on Spyware Vendors from U.S., China, Russia, Israel, and India

Facebook Cracks Down on Spyware Vendors from U.S., China, Russia, Israel, and India

Dec 19, 2022 Cyber Attacks / Surveillance
Meta Platforms disclosed that it took down no less than 200 covert influence operations since 2017 spanning roughly 70 countries across 42 languages. The social media conglomerate also took steps to disable accounts and block infrastructure operated by spyware vendors, including in China, Russia, Israel, the U.S. and India, that targeted individuals in about 200 countries. "The global surveillance-for-hire industry continues to grow and indiscriminately target people – including journalists, activists, litigants, and political opposition – to collect intelligence, manipulate and compromise their devices and accounts across the internet," the company  noted  in a report published last week. The networks that were found to engage in coordinated inauthentic behavior ( CIB ) originated from 68 countries. More than 100 nations are said to have been targeted by at least one such network, either foreign or domestic. With 34 operations, the U.S. emerged as the most frequently ta
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. "
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