UpGuard's Cyber Risk team announced in a blog post on Wednesday that Mexico City-based news website Cultura Colectiva had used Amazon servers to openly store 540 million records on Facebook users, including identification numbers, comments, reactions and account names.
Particularly concerning is that Upguard reportedly notified Facebook of the Cultura Colectiva exposure in January and was ignored. This shows that there have been little efforts from Facebook in ensuring foolproof security of the data that it extracts from its users.
The firm added that the "At the Pool" data was taken offline prior to a formal notification email being sent. "We are aware of the potential uses of data in current times, so we have reinforced our security measures to protect the data and privacy of our Facebook fan pages' users".
Both data sets were found stored in an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket and could be accessed by virtually anyone.
In late 2013, the company relaunched as a mobile-only service, connecting people with nearby friends; the shift also eliminated the requirement to authenticate with Facebook.
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Facebook has said the data was initially collected by a professor for academic purposes in line with its rules, CNN reported. The surface area for protecting the data of Facebook users is thus vast and heterogenous, and the responsibility for securing it lies with millions of app developers who have built on its platform.
Since then, Facebook has come under scrutiny for offering more of its users' data to companies than it had previously admitted.
Hart also warned companies of collecting user data and sharing it with third parties in the age of GDPR.
Nabil Hannan, Managing Principal (Financial Services) - Software Integrity Group, Synopsys, commented: "With increasingly stringent data protection laws going into effect across the globe, and the public's heightened sensitivity to privacy violations, protecting sensitive data needs to be a critical priority for all organizations".
Marketing has reached out to Facebook for further updates. 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.
"They just don't want to start a precedent of them meddling with the data", Vickery said, back when he was having trouble getting Amazon to take it down.