January 17, 2019

Rogue browser extension blamed for theft of millions of Facebook private messages

03 November 2018, 05:40 | Megan Pierce

Hackers appear to have compromised and published private messages from at least 81,000 Facebook users' accounts

Facebook hacked

The hackers allege that they have personal data of over 120 million Facebook account holders, and they are looking to sell it at $0.10 per account. "Our database includes 120 million accounts".

Facebook, however, said its systems were not breached as part of the hack. Behind the scenes, though, the extension would connect to Facebook and steal information from a victim's logged in account.

The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were reportedly obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions.

Facebook has denied hackers gained access to its servers and instead blamed the breach on users who have installed malicious web browser extensions that can store private messages.

Numerous users affected are reportedly based in the Ukraine and Russian Federation, although there were users affected in many other countries including the United States, the UK and Brazil.

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One example included photographs of a recent holiday, another was a chat about a recent Depeche Mode concert, and a third included complaints about a son-in-law. "We have also contacted law enforcement and have worked with local authorities to remove the website that displayed information from Facebook accounts", Facebook executive Guy Rosen told the publication.

It is strongly suggested that users avoid browser extensions altogether unless they are have good ratings and have been installed by many people as the review process for browser extensions leaves something to be desired. "As we continue to investigate, we will take action to secure people's accounts as appropriate", Rosen said in a statement to Deadline.

The BBC Russian Service contacted five Russian Facebook users whose private messages had been uploaded and confirmed the posts were theirs. But as you'd expect, there are also more sensitive discussions, including "intimate correspondence between two lovers", as the BBC describes it.

Independent cyber-experts have told the BBC that if rogue extensions were indeed the cause, the browsers' developers might share some responsibility for failing to vet the programs, assuming they were distributed via their marketplaces.

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