Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in Plaintext—Change Yours Now

At this point, it’s difficult to summarize all of Facebook’s privacy, misuse, and security missteps in one neat description. And it just got even harder. On Thursday, following a report by Krebs on Security, Facebook acknowledged a bug in its password management systems that caused hundreds of millions of user passwords for Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram to be stored as plaintext in an internal platform. This means that thousands of Facebook employees could have searched for and found them. Krebs reports that the passwords stretched back to those created in 2012.

Organizations can store account passwords securely by scrambling them with a cryptographic process known as hashing before saving them to their servers. This way, even if someone compromises those passwords, they won’t be able to read them, and a computer would find it difficult—even functionally impossible—to unscramble them. As a prominent company with billions of users, Facebook knows that it would be a jackpot for hackers, and invests heavily to avoid the liability and embarrassment of security mishaps. Unfortunately, though, one open window negates all the padlocks, bolts, and booby traps money can buy.

“As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems,” Pedro Canahuati, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, security, and privacy wrote in a statement. “Our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. To be clear, these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them.”

Canahuati says that Facebook has now corrected the password logging bug, and that the company will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users that their passwords may have been exposed. Facebook does not plan to reset those users’ passwords.

“In some ways that’s the most sensitive data they hold, because it’s raw and unmanaged.”

Kenn White, Open Crypto Audit Project

For such a prominent target, Facebook has had relatively few technical security failures, and in this case appears not to have been compromised. But the company’s track record was severely marred by a breach in September in which attackers stole extensive data from 30 million users by compromising their account access tokens—authentication markers generated when a user logs in.

That breach indirectly helped Facebook discover the trove of plaintext passwords and the bugs that caused them to be there; the incident motivated a security review that caught the lapse. “In the course of our review, we have been looking at the ways we store certain other categories of information—like access tokens—and have fixed problems as we’ve discovered them,” Canahuati wrote.

“It’s good that they’re being proactive,” says Lukasz Olejnik, an independent cybersecurity adviser and research associate at the Center for Technology and Global Affairs at Oxford University. “But this is a big deal. It seems like they found the issue during an audit so maybe their past mistakes plus new privacy regulations are making these checks more standard.”

Facebook told WIRED that the exposed passwords weren’t all stored in one place, and that the issue didn’t result from a single bug in the platform’s password management system. Instead, the company had unintentionally and incidentally captured plaintext passwords across a variety of internal mechanisms and storage systems, like crash logs. Facebook says that the scattered nature of the problem made it more complicated both to understand and to fix, which the company says explains the nearly two months it took to complete the investigation and disclose the findings.

A company operating at Facebook’s enormous scale needs to keep network traffic logs to better understand and trace bugs, outages, and other incidents that may crop up. Those logs will inevitably pull in whatever network data happens to be flowing by. That Facebook caught passwords in that process makes sense; the question is why Facebook retained logs that included sensitive data for so long, and why the company was apparently unaware of its contents.

“The data that’s captured incidentally as part of debugging and operating at the network scales they do is not uncommon,” says Kenn White, a security engineer and director of the Open Crypto Audit Project. “But if Facebook retains that for years it raises a lot of questions about their architecture. They have an obligation to protect these debug logs and audit and understand what they’re retaining. In some ways that’s the most sensitive data they hold, because it’s raw and unmanaged.”

Twitter dealt with a very similar plaintext password-logging bug last May; it, too, didn’t require users to reset their passwords, saying it had no reason to believe that the passwords were actually breached. Similarly, Facebook says its investigation hasn’t revealed any signs that anyone intentionally accessed its hundreds of millions of errant passwords to steal them. But whether you get a password notification from Facebook or not, you might as well go ahead and change it just in case.

To do so on Facebook desktop, go to Settings → Security and Login → Change Password. On Facebook for iOS and Android, go to Settings & Privacy → Settings → Security and Login → Change Password. On Facebook Lite for Android, go to Settings → Security and Login → Change Password. Changing your account password on either main Facebook or Facebook Lite changes it for both.

On Instagram, go to Settings → Privacy and Security → Password to change your password. Instagram and Facebook do not use the same password, but can be linked to log into one with the other.

And while you’re at it, the easiest way to keep track of and manage your passwords so you can easily change them after incidents like this is to set up a password manager. Go get one now.

Facebook says that the plaintext password issue is now fixed, and that it doesn’t think there will be long term impacts from the incident, because the passwords were never actually stolen. But given the company’s apparently endless stream of gaffes, it’s difficult to know what will come next.

“I get that they are working at mind-boggling scale,” White says. “But these are the crown jewels right there.”


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Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in Plaintext—Change Yours Now

At this time, it’s difficult to summarize all Facebook’s privacy, abuse, and safety missteps in one neat description. Plus it simply got also harder. On Thursday, adhering to a report by Krebs on protection, Facebook acknowledged a bug in its password management systems that caused vast sums of individual passwords for Twitter, Twitter Lite, and Instagram become stored as plaintext within an interior platform. Which means countless Facebook workers may have looked for and discovered them. Krebs reports that the passwords stretched back to those created in 2012.

Organizations can store account passwords firmly by scrambling these with a cryptographic process referred to as hashing before saving them to their servers. In this way, no matter if some one compromises those passwords, they won’t manage to read them, and a computer would find it difficult—even functionally impossible—to unscramble them. As a prominent business with billions of users, Twitter understands that it will be a jackpot for hackers, and invests greatly to avoid the obligation and embarrassment of safety mishaps. Unfortunately, however, one available window negates all the padlocks, bolts, and booby traps cash can find.

“As element of a routine protection review in January, we unearthed that some individual passwords had been being kept in a readable structure inside our interior information storage systems,” Pedro Canahuati, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, security, and privacy penned in a declaration. “Our login systems are created to mask passwords making use of techniques which make them unreadable. Become clear, these passwords were never noticeable to anyone beyond Facebook so we have discovered no evidence up to now that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them.”

Canahuati claims that Twitter has now corrected the password logging bug, which the organization will alert hundreds of millions of Twitter Lite users, tens of countless Facebook users, and thousands of Instagram users that their passwords may have been exposed. Facebook doesn’t want to reset those users’ passwords.

“in certain ways that’s many painful and sensitive information they hold, as it’s raw and unmanaged.”

Kenn White, Open Crypto Audit Venture

For that prominent target, Twitter has already established reasonably couple of technical protection failures, as well as in this situation appears not to have been compromised. But the company’s track record ended up being seriously marred by a breach in September in which attackers took considerable data from 30 million users by compromising their account access tokens—authentication markers produced when a user logs in.

That breach indirectly aided Facebook uncover the trove of plaintext passwords and also the insects that caused them become here; the incident motivated a safety review that caught the lapse. “for the duration of our review, we have been looking at the ways we store certain other kinds of information—like access tokens—and have fixed issues as we’ve discovered them,” Canahuati wrote.

“It’s good that they’re being proactive,” claims Lukasz Olejnik, an independent cybersecurity adviser and research associate within Center for tech and Global Affairs at Oxford University. “But this will be a big deal. It looks like they discovered the matter during an audit therefore possibly their previous errors plus new privacy laws are making these checks more standard.”

Facebook told WIRED your exposed passwords weren’t all kept in one single spot, and that the issue didn’t be a consequence of a single bug inside platform’s password administration system. Instead, the organization had inadvertently and incidentally captured plaintext passwords across a variety of interior mechanisms and storage space systems, like crash logs. Facebook claims your scattered nature of problem managed to get harder both to know and to fix, that your company claims describes the nearly 8 weeks it took to complete the investigation and reveal the findings.

A company running at Twitter’s enormous scale has to keep system traffic logs to raised comprehend and trace insects, outages, along with other incidents that may crop up. Those logs will inevitably pull in whatever community data happens to be flowing by. That Facebook caught passwords because process is reasonable; the question is the reason why Facebook retained logs that included sensitive and painful data for such a long time, and exactly why the business had been apparently unaware of its articles.

“The information that’s captured incidentally within debugging and working at the system scales they are doing is not uncommon,” states Kenn White, a protection engineer and manager of this Open Crypto Audit venture. “however if Twitter retains that consistently it raises plenty of questions regarding their architecture. They have an responsibility to guard these debug logs and review and know very well what they’re retaining. In certain ways that’s the most painful and sensitive information they hold, because it’s raw and unmanaged.”

Twitter managed an extremely similar plaintext password-logging bug last might; it, too, don’t require users to reset their passwords, saying it had no explanation to trust that the passwords were really breached. Likewise, Twitter states its research hasn’t revealed any indications that anyone deliberately accessed its vast sums of errant passwords to steal them. But whether you get a password notification from Facebook or perhaps not, you might aswell go ahead and change it out in the event.

To do this on Twitter desktop, head to Settings → safety and Login → Change Password. On Facebook for iOS and Android os, go to Settings & Privacy → Settings → safety and Login → Change Password. On Facebook Lite for Android, head to Settings → safety and Login → Change Password. Changing your account password on either primary Facebook or Facebook Lite modifications it for both.

On Instagram, visit Settings → Privacy and Security → Password to improve your password. Instagram and Facebook do not use equivalent password, but is linked to log into one with all the other.

Even though you’re at it, the easiest way to help keep tabs on and handle your passwords in order to easily alter them after incidents such as this is always to setup a password supervisor. Get get one now.

Facebook claims your plaintext password problem is currently fixed, and that it doesn’t think there will be long term effects from event, because the passwords were never ever in fact taken. But provided the organization’s evidently endless stream of gaffes, it is difficult to know what will come next.

“we have that they’re working at mind-boggling scale,” White states. “however these will be the crown jewels right there.”


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Manafort and Cohen Sentencing Documents Put Donald Trump in Spotlight

We are deep into the worst case scenarios. But as new sentencing memos for Trump associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen make all too clear, the only remaining question is how bad does the actual worst case scenario get?

The potential innocent explanations for Donald Trump’s behavior over the last two years have been steadily stripped away, piece by piece. Special counsel Robert Mueller and investigative reporters have uncovered and assembled a picture of a presidential campaign and transition seemingly infected by unprecedented deceit and criminality, and in regular—almost obsequious—contact with America’s leading foreign adversary.

A year ago, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic outlined seven possible scenarios about Trump and Russia, arranged from most innocent to most guilty. Fifth on that list was “Russian Intelligence Actively Penetrated the Trump Campaign—And Trump Knew or Should Have Known,” escalating from there to #6 “Kompromat,” and topping out at the once unimaginable #7, “The President of the United States is a Russian Agent.”

After the latest disclosures, we’re steadily into Scenario #5, and can easily imagine #6.

The Cohen and Manafort court documents all provide new details, revelations, and hints of more to come. They’re a reminder, also, that Mueller’s investigation continues alongside an investigation by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that clearly alleges that Donald Trump participated in a felony, directing Cohen to violate campaign finance laws to cover up extramarital affairs.

Through his previous indictments against Russian military intelligence and the Russian Internet Research Agency, Mueller has laid out a criminal conspiracy and espionage campaign approved, according to US intelligence, by Vladimir Putin himself. More recently, Mueller has begun to hint at the long arm of that intelligence operation, and how it connects to the core of the Trump campaign itself.

Points of Contact

In fact, what’s remarkable about the once-unthinkable conclusions emerging from the special counsel’s investigation thus far is how, well, normal Russia’s intelligence operation appears to have been as it targeted Trump’s campaign and the 2016 presidential election. What intelligence professionals would call the assessment and recruitment phases appears to have unfolded with almost textbook precision, with few stumbling blocks and plenty of encouragement from the Trump side.

Mueller’s court filings, when coupled with other investigative reporting, paint a picture of how the Russian government, through various trusted-but-deniable intermediaries, conducted a series of “approaches” over the course of the spring of 2016 to determine, as Wittes says, whether “this is a guy you can do business with.”

The answer, from everyone in Trumpland—from Michael Cohen in January 2016, from George Papadopoulos in spring 2016, from Donald Trump, Jr. in June 2016, from Michael Flynn in December 2016—appears to have been an unequivocal “yes.”

Mueller and various reporting have shown that the lieutenants in Trump’s orbit rebuffed precisely zero of the known Russian overtures. In fact, quite the opposite. Each approach was met with enthusiasm, and a request for more.

Given every opportunity, most Trump associates—from Paul Manafort to Donald Trump, Jr. to George Papadopoulos—not only allegedly took every offered meeting, and returned every email or phone call, but appeared to take overt action to encourage further contact. Not once did any of them inform the FBI of the contacts.

For years, Russia has known compromising material on the president’s business empire and his primary lawyer.

And it seems possible there’s even more than has become public, beginning earlier than we might have known. As Mueller’s report says in Cohen’s case, “The defendant also provided information about attempts by other Russian nationals to reach the campaign. For example, in or around November 2015, Cohen received the contact information for, and spoke with, a Russian national who claimed to be a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign ‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level.’ The defendant recalled that this person repeatedly proposed a meeting between Individual 1 [aka Donald Trump] and the President of Russia. The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a ‘phenomenal’ impact ‘not only in political but in a business dimension as well,’ referring to the Moscow Project, because there is no bigger warranty in any project than consent of [the President of Russia].’”

A footnote then clarifies that the reason Cohen didn’t follow up on the invitation was “because he was working on the Moscow Project with a different individual who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government.” In other words, the only reason Cohen didn’t pursue a Kremlin hook-up was because he didn’t need a Kremlin hook-up—he already had one.

Much of Friday’s filing by the special counsel about Paul Manafort, meanwhile, outlines at great length how he allegedly lied to Mueller’s office about both his contact and the content of those contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant whom US intelligence believes is tied to Russian intelligence.

Further sentences throughout Cohen’s document hint at much more to come—and that the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization, and even the White House likely face serious jeopardy in the continuing investigation. As Mueller writes, “Cohen provided the SCO with useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with Company executives during the campaign.”

What precisely those “discrete Russia-related matters” are, we don’t know—yet—but the known behavior of the Trump campaign associates and family members is damning.

Not least of all is Don Jr.’s now infamous email, responding to a suggestion of Russian assistance: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” which happens to be precisely when Russia dropped the stolen Clinton campaign emails, funneling them through WikiLeaks, another organization where there appears to have been no shortage of Trump-linked contact and encouragement by a team that included Roger Stone, Randy Credico, and Jerome Corsi’s conversations with their “friend in embassy,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

It was a pattern that continued right through the transition, as Flynn’s sentencing memo this week also reminds us: Trump’s team was all too happy to set up backchannels and mislead or even outright lie about their contacts with Russian officials. There’s still the largely unexplained request by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to establish secure backchannel communications with the Russian government, during the transition, that would be free of US eavesdropping.

Nearly everyone in the Trump orbit experienced massive amnesia about all of these contacts during the campaign, including Kushner and former attorney general Jeff Sessions himself, both of whom “revised” their recollections later to include meetings they held with Russian officials during the campaign and transition.

Leverage

The lies by Trump’s team would have provided Russia immense possible leverage. Michael Cohen’s calls and efforts through the spring of 2016, as he sought help for the Trump Tower Moscow project, were publicly denied until last week.

But the Russians knew Trump was lying.

For years, Russia has known compromising material on the president’s business empire and his primary lawyer.

Similarly, during the transition, Michael Flynn called to talk sanctions with Russia’s ambassadors—saying, in effect, don’t worry about Obama, be patient, we’ll undo it—and then covered up that conversation to federal investigators and the public.

But the Russians knew Flynn was lying.

For the first weeks of the Trump administration in January 2017, as then acting attorney general Sally Yates ran around the West Wing warning that Russia had compromising material on the president’s top national security advisor.

While Trump has tried to slough off the Trump Tower Moscow project since Cohen’s plea agreement as “very legal & very cool,” the easiest way to know that they don’t believe that themselves is that they lied about it. For years.

“The fact that [Trump] was lying to the American people about doing business in Russia and that the Kremlin knew he was lying gave the Kremlin a hold over him,” the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “One question we have now is, does the Kremlin still have a hold over him because of other lies that they know about?”

The most obvious scenario is the most likely scenario.

As Mueller put it in Friday’s Cohen court documents: “The defendant’s false statements obscured the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government. If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues. The fact that Cohen continued to work on the project and discuss it with Individual 1 [aka Donald Trump] well into the campaign was material to the ongoing congressional and SCO investigations, particularly because it occurred at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election. Similarly, it was material that Cohen, during the campaign, had a substantive telephone call about the project with an assistant to the press secretary for the President of Russia.”

Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin phrased it slightly differently in the wake of Cohen’s plea agreement: “It would have been highly relevant to the public to learn that Trump was negotiating a business deal with Russia at the same time that he was proposing to change American policy toward that country.”

The SDNY sentencing document for Cohen, while combative and calling for a substantial prison sentence, does lay out some significant cooperation across what it says were seven sessions between Cohen and the special counsel’s office, saying, “His statements have been credible, and he has taken care not to overstate his knowledge or the role of others in the conduct under investigation.”

That means something specific in the way that federal prosecutors speak, and given how ethics constrain them to verify statements before allowing them to be made in court. It’s clear that Mueller’s team and the prosecutors in the Southern District aren’t just taking at face value the words of someone who has been pleading guilty to lying to investigators, banks, and tax authorities.

In fact, they likely have significant documentary evidence that Cohen’s claims are true and that, as prosecutors say, “Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1 [Donald Trump].”

Surreptitious recordings made by the Cohen and quoted in the document remind us that it’s possible that prosecutors even have recordings of Trump ordering his fixer to commit a felony.

Mueller doesn’t say precisely what he has, but the new documents are littered with breadcrumbs—mentions of travel records, testimonial evidence, emails, draft documents, recordings, and more. And he has both a very helpful Cohen and, to at least some extent, Manafort. While the former campaign chair wasn’t cooperative, he did, according to the new filing, testify twice to a grand jury in recent weeks, meaning that his testimony is being used as part of a criminal case targeting someone else.

Meanwhile, one of the most intriguing aspects of the Manafort document came in its final paragraphs, where Mueller’s team outlines that the former campaign chairman had been in contact with various administration officials well into 2018. “A review of documents recovered from a search of Manafort’s electronic documents demonstrates additional contacts with Administration officials,” the report says. What—and who—Mueller doesn’t hint at, but it’s surely part of the massive iceberg of evidence resting just below the surface of this case.

Put together all the clues, and Occam’s Razor comes to mind: The most obvious scenario is the most likely scenario. And the most likely scenario now is that there was no division between the apparent Trump-Russian collusion on business matters and in the election. The coincidences are piling up. The conversations are piling up.

And Mueller’s evidence is clearly piling up as well.


Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) is a contributing editor for WIRED and the co-author of Dawn of the Code War: America’s Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat. He can be reached at garrett.graff@gmail.com.


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Julian Assange Charges, Japan’s Top Cybersecurity Official, and More Security News This Week

The US refused to join a new global cybersecurity agreement this week—maybe because it was created by French president Emmanuel Macron, with whom President Trump isn’t on great terms with.

On the same day, internet traffic that was supposed to route through Google’s cloud servers instead went haywire, traveling through unplanned servers based in the likes of Russia and China. Hack? No, as Lily Hay Newman explains, though the cause was still worrisome.

We also brought you the lowdown on how Darpa is preparing a Hail Mary plan to restart an electric grid in the case of a major infrastructure hack. We showed you how to get rid of old electronics without leaving your personal data on them. We explained what a bot really even is. And, with Mozilla’s help, we explained how to shop for cyber-secure toys for the holidays.

Cryptographer Bruce Schneier explained why surveillance kills freedom and experimentation. And Garrett Graff laid out why the Mueller investigation is probably going to be just fine—despite Trump firing Jeff Sessions and replacing him with a person who called the investigation a witch hunt.

And there’s more! As always, we’ve rounded up all the news we didn’t break or cover in depth this week. Click on the headlines to read the full stories. And stay safe out there.

The Cybersecurity Minister Who’s Never Used a Computer

The most cybersecure devices are the ones that aren’t connected to the internet at all. Japan’s minister of cybersecurity Yoshitaka Sakurada appears to have taken that advice a little far, admitting in front of Japanese parliament this week that he has actually never used a computer. At all. The nation of Japan was understandably aghast. When asked whether nuclear power plants in the country allowed USB drives to be used on their computers, Sakurada admitted he didn’t know what a USB drive was. He told parliament if they need to have better answers they should bring in an expert.

Though the story is funny in a “this is fine” meme kind of way, it’s actually terrifying, and exemplifies a growing trend of nonexperts in governing positions—and not just in Japan. American lawmakers are increasingly without expertise in the areas they’re assigned to oversee. After the midterms, it made headlines that a lawmaker with an actual science background would be leading the House science committee. It was news because it was such a rarity. This isn’t really fine, is it?

Alexa May Be a Witness to Another Murder

It happened in 2016. And now it’s happened again. A judge in New Hampshire has said that Amazon’s Alexa may have heard the stabbing murder of two women. The judge ruled this week that Amazon should hand over the records to prosecutors in the case against the man accused. Amazon said it will only deliver the recordings with a binding legal order, which it appeared to deny the ruling constituted.

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Has Been Charged With… Something

In an apparent error, a US assistant attorney revealed in an unrelated court filing that Julian Assange has been charged “under seal” in the US. That means no details of the charge, or even the charge itself, are meant to be known by the public. The unrelated filing stated: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” It went on to indicate the US plans to arrest Assange, who is reportedly wearing out his welcome at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he’s been hiding for the past six years. A spokesman for the court told The Washington Post, “The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing.” The Post suggests the filing might relate to the Mueller probe, which has been investigating the role Wikileaks played in Russia’s misinformation attack on the US presidential election in 2016.

The Government’s Requesting More and More Data from Facebook

Facebook says that US government requests for user data have gone up by 30 percent year over year. Most of these were court-ordered search warrants, which the company prevented from alerting users about. The figures were released in its latest transparency report, which came out a day after The New York Times bombshell investigation into the company’s mishandling of Russian misinformation on the platform during the presidential election. Facebook’s transparency report also reveals that between 2014 and 2017, Facebook reports the US government served it with 13 national security letters, the secret subpoenas the FBI issues to companies for data without any judicial oversight, and about which companies are often prevented from discussing publicly. Facebook disclosed the information after the government lifted the gag orders on these specific NSLs earlier this year, according to Facebook’s deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby.

Google Tweeted Out a Bitcoin Scam

As if its traffic being rerouted erroneously through Russia and China wasn’t bad enough, Google’s official G Suite Twitter account was also hacked this week. In a since-deleted tweet, the account promoted a bitcoin scam to its more than 800,000 followers. The Next Web reports the hack was part of a string Bitcoin related scams going around. Earlier that same day Target’s Twitter account had done the same thing.

New Cloudflare App Makes Public Mobile Browsing Safer

In good news, internet security company Cloudflare released a mobile version of its 1.1.1.1 public DNS resolver, which works to protect your browsing privacy while on a public internet connection by hiding your IP address. Available for iOS and Android devices, the app is free and early reviews suggest it’s fast.


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Facebook’s Massive Security Breach: Every Thing We Know

Facebook’s privacy dilemmas seriously escalated Friday whenever social network disclosed that the unprecedented protection issue, discovered September 25, impacted nearly 50 million individual accounts. Unlike the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when a third-party company erroneously accessed data that the then-legitimate test application had siphoned up, this vulnerability allowed attackers to directly dominate individual accounts.

The insects that enabled the assault have actually since been patched, based on Facebook. The business additionally says it has yet to find out exactly what data was accessed, and whether any one of it absolutely was misused. Included in that fix, Facebook immediately logged out 90 million Facebook users from their accounts Friday early morning, accounting both the 50 million that Facebook understands had been affected, as well as an additional 40 million that possibly might have been.

“We were capable fix the vulnerability and secure the records, nonetheless it is a concern so it occurred to start with.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Facebook says that affected users will see an email near the top of their News Feed about the problem once they log back in the social network. “Your privacy and security are important to us,” the improvement reads. “We want to inform you about current action we have taken up to secure your account,” accompanied by a prompt to click and learn more details. If perhaps you were perhaps not logged out but desire to just take extra protection precautions, you should check this page to understand places where your account happens to be logged in, and log them out.

Facebook has yet to recognize the hackers, or where they may have originated. “We may never understand,” man Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of item, stated on a call with reporters Friday. The organization is now working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations to determine the attackers. A Taiwanese hacker named Chang Chi-yuan had early in the day recently promised to live-stream the deletion of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook account, but Rosen stated Facebook had been “unaware that that person ended up being associated with this attack.”

“If the attacker exploited custom and remote weaknesses, additionally the assault was a very targeted one, there simply could be no suitable trace or cleverness allowing detectives to get in touch the dots,” says Lukasz Olejnik, a security and privacy researcher and member of the W3C Technical Architecture Group.

On the same call, Twitter CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated past statements he’s made about protection being an “arms competition.”

“This is really a really serious security problem, and we’re using it certainly seriously,” he said. “I’m glad that we found this, so we could actually fix the vulnerability and secure the accounts, nonetheless it is certainly a problem that it occurred in the first place.”

The social networking says its investigation in to the breach started on September 16, when it saw a unique surge in users accessing Twitter. On September 25, the business’s engineering group found that hackers appear to have exploited a few bugs linked to a Facebook function that lets people see what their very own profile appears like to another person. The “View As” function is made to allow users to have how their privacy settings look to another individual.

The first bug prompted Facebook’s video clip upload device to mistakenly show up on the “View As” page. The second one caused the uploader to come up with an access token—what allows you to stay logged into your Facebook account for a device, without the need to register each time you visit—that had the exact same sign-in permissions while the Facebook mobile application. Finally, as soon as the video uploader did appear in “View As” mode, it caused an access rule for whoever the hacker had been searching for.

“This is really a complex conversation of numerous insects,” Rosen stated, incorporating that the hackers most likely needed some amount of elegance.

That also describes Friday morning’s logouts; they served to reset the access tokens of both those directly impacted and any additional reports “that have been susceptible to a View As look-up” within the last few 12 months, Rosen stated. Facebook has temporarily switched off “View As,” since it continues to research the issue.

“It’s easy to say that security testing must have caught this, however these types of protection vulnerabilities can be extremely difficult to spot or catch given that they depend on being forced to dynamically test the site it self because it’s operating,” says David Kennedy, the CEO associated with cybersecurity company TrustedSec.

The vulnerability couldn’t attended at a even worse time for Twitter, whose professionals continue to be reeling from the number of scandals that unfolded in wake associated with 2016 United States presidential election. A widespread Russian disinformation campaign leveraged the working platform undetected, followed by revelations that third-party organizations like Cambridge Analytica had gathered individual information without their knowledge.

“There merely might be no suitable trace or intelligence allowing detectives to get in touch the dots.”

Security Researcher Lukasz Olejnik

The social network already faces multiple federal investigations into its privacy and data-sharing techniques, including one probe by the Federal Trade Commission, and another carried out by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Both have to do with its disclosures around Cambridge Analytica.

Additionally faces the specter of more aggressive regulation from Congress, regarding the heels of a series of sporadically contentious hearings about data privacy. After Facebook’s statement Friday, senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who serves as vice chairman of this Senate Intelligence Committee, needed a “full investigation” into the breach. “Today’s disclosure is a reminder about the risks posed each time a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax can accumulate a great deal personal data about specific Americans without adequate safety measures,” Warner said in a declaration. “This is another sobering indicator that Congress has to intensify and do something to guard the privacy and security of social media users.”

Facebook might face unprecedented scrutiny in Europe, where in fact the new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, requires organizations reveal a breach to a European agency within 72 hours from it occurring. In cases of high risk to users, the legislation also requires which they be notified directly. Facebook claims it has notified the Irish information Protection Commission towards issue.

Here is the 2nd protection vulnerability that Facebook has disclosed lately. In June, the business announced it had found a bug that constructed to 14 million people’s articles publicly viewable to anyone for several days. Here is the first time in Facebook’s history, however, that users’ whole reports may have been compromised by outside hackers. Its a reaction to this vulnerability—and the rate and comprehensiveness regarding the crucial disclosures ahead—will be of severe importance. Once more, all eyes take Mark Zuckerberg.

Additional reporting by Lily Hay Newman.


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