Facebook: Hackers accessed 29 million accounts, fewer than thought

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And among those, not everyone suffered data theft as a outcome.

Now, Facebook is revealing more data about the breach to give users (and the media, naturally) a better idea of what happened and how much it affects Facebook users.

Rosen said Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Workplace, Pages, payments, third-party apps, advertising and developer accounts were not affected. In the next days, Facebook will also message those affected telling them which information attackers could have accessed, and will provide tips on how they can protect themselves in future from suspicious emails, text messages, or calls. For 15 million, they obtained names, phone numbers, and email addresses, if present in their profiles.

The attackers could also read the names of private conversations on Facebook Messenger, but not the content of those messages, company officials said. The vulnerability, Facebook said, had existed since July 2017.

Facebook says it noticed "an unusual spike of activity" on September 14, and on September 25, determined that it was being attacked.

"We have not ruled out the possibility of smaller-scale attacks, which we're continuing to investigate", Facebook's head of product management, Guy Rosen, said in a blog post. The hack involved a feature known as "View As", which enables users to see what their Facebook profile looks like when other users look at it.

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So, if Facebook says your "account has not been impacted", are you in the clear?

The attackers had access to a limited number of accounts to begin with, and it's not clear if these were bogus to begin with, but they were connected to other "friends" on the site. The hack started with 400,000 profiles, then used the "Friends" and "Friends of Friends" features to get the "digital keys" for 30 million people, Rosen wrote. The Mark Zuckerberg-led company also said it was taking the precautionary measure of resetting access tokens for another 40 million accounts that were "subject to a "View As" look-up in the previous year", bringing the total to 90 million accounts who will now have to log back into the service.

"We face constant attacks from people who want to take over accounts or steal information around the world", chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on his own Facebook page when the breach was disclosed.

That sorrow has limits.

The still-unidentified hackers were able to steal a bunch of additional data from the latter group of 14 million users, according to Rosen.

Nonetheless, Facebook may end up opening the corporate coffers to make things right. The breach is being seen as the first major test of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force in May.

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