Google exposed data for hundreds of thousands of users

10 October, 2018, 16:27 | Author: Patty Hardy
  • Google headquarters in Mountain View California.                  Stephen Shankland  CNET

We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.

But in a blog post today, Ben Smith, Google Fellow and Vice President of Engineering, said the bug allowed third-party apps to also gain access to users' data that was marked private, not just the public data the apps would have normally been allowed to see. Others include limiting what sorts of data that can be collected per transaction when users share their Gmail accounts and phone numbers.

Google has announced plans to shut down its social media platform Google+ after the Wall Street Journal reported it failed to disclose to a bug that potentially affected 500,000 accounts.

The bug, which went undiscovered from 2015 until March of this year, according to The WSJ, allowed developers to access personal data from the connections of people who had installed their app, even if those people didn't give permission for their information to be accessed.

The Journal also reports that Alphabet chose not to disclose the issue this past spring, when the issue was first discovered, "in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage..."

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has agreed to testify before Congress in the coming weeks, according to the Journal.

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The company said it determined its course of action based on the data involved in the breach, lack of evidence of misuse and challenges in accurately determining which users to inform.

These apps will also need to agree to new rules on handling Gmail data, and will be subject to new security assessments.

Google eventually disclosed the data leak in a blog post yesterday. A bug in its software left up to half a million users' profile data accessible to third-parties. In fact, 90%of Google+ user sessions only last less than five seconds.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

However, Google will continue to use Google+ for Enterprise purposes as an internal social network for companies rather than for consumers, saying that it is the most popular use of the social network. Contact interaction data will no longer be available via the Android Contacts API either.

The news comes just two weeks after Facebook revealed almost 50m users had been affected by a similar privacy lapse.


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