Millions of Facebook User Records Found on Public Server

Hundreds of millions of Facebook user records exposed on Amazon cloud servers

As UpGuard points out, despite the fact that Facebook has promised a renewed sense of urgency regarding its user's data, especially following the catastrophic Cambridge Analytica leak previous year, there is only so much that the company can control at this point.

The largest dataset was linked to the Mexican media company Cultura Colectiva who openly stored more than 540 million records, such as accounts names, comments, likes, Facebook IDs and reactions. The records were accessible and downloadable for anyone who could find them online. The app itself shut down in 2014, and UpGuard said it is not known how long the user details were exposed.

After the breach came to light, Facebook promised to put limitations on how much data third-party apps can access and enhanced security measures by clearly listing out for users the permissions required by each app.

The information about Facebook users, though they might not be as sensitive as their Social Security Numbers, could expose their interests, relationships and interactions to third-party developers, the cybersecurity firm said.

Brian Vecci, a top executive at the security firm Varonis recommends that consumers check which apps are now collecting data from their accounts and revoke access for those that don't need it. It shows that a lack of respect towards private data is an industry problem and not just something Facebook alone is at fault for.

The issue highlights how Facebook shared this kind of information freely with third-party developers for years before cracking down. That one instance has led to government probes around the world, and threats of further regulation for the company. For app developers on Facebook, part of the platform's appeal is access to some slice of the data generated by and about Facebook users.

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But this week UpGuard's Cyber Risk team revealed in a blog posting that it had found public databases on Facebook users.

That's still 146 gigabytes of material, UpGuard said. UpGuard also had trouble working to get the database closed. After Bloomberg reached out to Facebook for a comment about that breach, an Amazon "storage bucket" with the data from Cultura Colectiva was secured.

The leak is another strike in a long list of Facebook's faults as it scrambles to maintain its reputation.

No passwords or emails were exposed in the leak, according to Cultura Colectiva.

The security researchers then notified Amazon Web Services of the situation on 28th January, and AWS sent a response on 1 February saying that the bucket's owner was made aware of the exposure.

Those tech giants have built multibillion-dollar businesses by making it easy for companies to run applications and store troves of data, from corporate documents to employee information, on remote servers.