Facebook, online the data of 267 million users: what happened

A new Facebook scandal arrives at the end of 2019: the data of millions of users could end up in the hands of hackers. The details of the affair

Facebook returns to the spotlight because of problems related to the violation of privacy. After the big Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, the famous social network let slip a secret database with millions of user data. The news is circulating in the last hours and has already made millions of subscribers to the sociaĆ² platform worry

The indiscretion was reported to the Comparitech platform by cybersecurity expert Bob Diachenko. According to the researcher, there is an archive that collects sensitive information belonging to 267 million registered Facebook users. This list is freely downloadable and represents a great source of information for cyber criminals who, in this way, can act undisturbed to steal social profiles, but also business accounts and even to break into systems and steal phone numbers and security codes of different types.

Facebook scandal: user data in the hands of hackers

Bob Diachenko was the first to raise the alarm: the data of 267 million Facebook users are online and anyone can download them undisturbed. In the archive would appear the name and surname of the user, ID and phone number. The Facebook operators themselves managed to download the list from a hacker forum, officially launching the alarm.

According to the agency France Press, which is taking an interest in the incident, the information dates back to several years ago, that is, before Facebook applied restrictions to better protect the data of registered people. These statements allow most people to remain calm, however there are people who have never updated their passwords, and this would endanger their privacy. The best way to defend yourself from possible attacks is to change your password, and turn this emergency operation into a frequent action, which has always been useful to block possible cyber attacks.

How did the criminals get the Facebook data?

According to the analysis carried out in the last hours, hackers have stolen information from Facebook thanks to an illegal action called web scraping, which consists in extracting data using ad hoc software. When the program finds a flaw in an online channel, it can read all the information contained in the internal archives. Another way to get hold of the database could be to hack the Facebook API.

Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal

The news comes at a very delicate time for Facebook: after the Cambridge Analytica scandal its credibility has been tarnished and it will be difficult to recover. Since then Mark Zuckerberg and his team is trying to regain ground by reassuring users with new features designed to strengthen privacy.

At the beginning of December, the Federal Trade Commission, the American authority for the protection of privacy, established that Facebook the - now defunct - British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica would have used millions of Facebook data, without users' knowledge. This information was collected through deceptive practices and used to target voters during Donald Trump's presidential campaigns in 2016.

Facebook had to pay a record $5 billion penalty for mishandling people's sensitive information. In short, this is just yet another scandal involving the social network that suggests we should always be careful about what we share with this platform. The advice is to limit the data shared as much as possible and change the credentials often, especially the password.