Bug in Google+ API Puts At Risk Privacy Of Over 52 Million Users

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In more bad news for Google+, private details on around 52.5 million Google+ profiles were accessible to developers of apps in a six day exposure in November. It was caused by a bug in the Google+ People API, specifically built to allow access to profile data with the owner’s consent.

With this new API bug, the second one since October, the company has also decided to retire the platform in April 2019, and all Google+ APIs will shut down in the next 90 days.

Patrick Hunter, Technical Director at One Identity:

“The news is full of data breaches.  Everyday there are a handful of new cases where either a human mistake or a bug (still a human mistake ultimately!) exposes people’s private data to the internet.  There is a danger that we start to become used to it and stop listening with the level of concern that we should.  There are two things here and neither have much to do with the bug.  We, the people, the users, the owners of the data need to think more carefully about what we put out there in the internet.  It is a wild and untamed place and our data can be scattered to the four corners in a matter of seconds, if we are not more careful.  Careful of what?  Well, it is our data and our level of trust.  If we buy something from the internet we trust that the credit card details are going to be encrypted when used and also when stored by an on-line store.  Should we really be storing them all over the world for convenience?  Be prepared to lose it – rightly or wrongly, this has become a fact of modern internet-life.

“Secondly, the same applies to the profile data described here.  Yes, you can choose to not expose certain aspects you’ve typed in, but how about never typing it in in the first place.  There is a duty of care of us to our data – we need to think more carefully about what we use and what we put there and, by definition, out of our control.

“Bugs, like the Google+ one described, are going to keep happening, people of going to keep making mistakes and hackers are not going to stop taking advantage. Protect your access using some form of two-factor authentication and give yourselves a fighting chance to keep that all important data where it should be.  Also, think long and hard about what data you expose and consider the balance between convenience and good security.”

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