The Facebook Data Breach

Facebook has already been having a bad year. It has been accused of meddling in the United States elections. Mark Zuckerberg also had to testify in front of the American Senate to reassure them that Facebook takes the privacy of its users seriously. The company has also been rocked by scandals that accuse it of spreading “fake news” in the market.

The latest one in Facebook’s list of problems is a “Data Breach”. The company that prides itself on its data security measures has failed to protect the data of millions of users. The company announced that hackers were able to break into Facebook’s servers. These hackers were then allegedly able to access the profiles, pictures and other personal data of users. Many hackers have stored this information with them. However, Facebook now believes that the situation is under control. They have identified the list of about 90 million users and notified them. Some of these user accounts have been locked out. Facebook will only allow access to these accounts only after the proper security measures are in place.

How did Hackers Log Into the System?

Facebook has clarified that users did not steal the passwords and usernames of the people. Instead, they were able to log in using the concept of access tokens. Access tokens are like temporary keys which are generated once the users log onto the system.

For instance, once we generate a user ID and password, the system generates an access token. The next time we enter these details again, a different access token is generated. The hackers got hold of these access tokens. This allowed them to log on to user sessions. They simply bypassed the need for user ID and passwords. All security measures including two-factor authentications are simply bypassed if hackers get hold of access tokens.

It is also estimated that hackers were able to log in to other websites like Twitter as well. If a user’s Facebook account was connected with their Twitter account, hackers were able to log in there as well as obtain the personal information of users.

The After Effects of this Data Breach

This data breach is likely to have some serious ramifications for Facebook. The users of Facebook are tired of their negligent behavior, and this time the company is likely to face some backlash. The details have been mentioned in this article.

GDPR Fine: The GDPR laws have come into effect in Europe in 2018. Under the GDPR laws, companies are liable to face strict action if they are unable to protect the privacy of the users. There are varying degrees of fines and penalties. However, the highest possible penalty is 4% of the global revenues of the firm in the previous year. In the case of Facebook, this 4% amount turns out to be a massive $1.63 billion. Similar laws do not exist in the United States. However, the company has earned a negative reputation given the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is unlikely that regulators will just let Facebook slip away this time too. The monetary loss associated with this data breach is going to be humungous.

The threat of Regulation: Many activists in the United States believe that Facebook is not serious about the privacy of user’s data because of its near-monopoly position in the market. This is the reason why they have been advocating laws which make it possible to port social media profiles. Such a law would make it mandatory for Facebook to share all the information related to its users with a third party social media company. Users can then choose to port their social media profiles without having to worry about losing their data. The negligence that led to this data breach might prompt activists to lobby harder and make social media porting a reality. Facebook’s negligence might end up creating competition for what has been a monopoly business till now.

User Activism: Facebook’s users have become very active. Most of them now want to know the fine prints of the policies being undertaken by Facebook. This is because they do not trust the company anymore. This is the reason many of them are choosing to delete their data from Facebook. Many of them are not adding any more information to their Facebook profiles or news feeds. Many are installing new browsers to ensure that Facebook does not get complete access to their browsing information. In short, the trust between Facebook and its users has been badly damaged. Customers earlier viewed Facebook as a fun company which was created to help users share their leisure moments with their loved ones. Now, it is viewed as a ruthless corporation that will sell out personal data for monetary gain.

The bottom line is that Facebook is going to be severely affected by this crisis. Up until now, the company’s actions have been ignored. However, since this scandal has broken out less than one year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook is unlikely to get away with this data breach simply.

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