Tech

Messages from 81,000 hacked Facebook accounts reportedly up for sale

Messages from 81,000 hacked Facebook accounts reportedly up for sale

This hack apparently has nothing to do with the most recent hack of Facebook data that was widely publicised in September.

The platform where the data was posted appears, or has been made to appear, to have Russian links.

And according to Facebook, the breach is due to malware-containing browser extensions.

"We have contacted browser-makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores", said Facebook executive Guy Rosen.

"We have also contacted law enforcement and have worked with local authorities to remove the website that displayed information from Facebook accounts".

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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The site then contacted the users whose accounts it had verified who confirmed the personal data were theirs. Personal information leaks have come in all shapes and sizes, from third-party apps to GDPR infringements and, of course, the whole Cambridge Analytica debacle. Behind the scenes, though, the extension would connect to Facebook and steal information from a victim's logged in account. The addition of browser extensions increases what is otherwise a small attack surface.

The messages were posted on a forum by hackers claiming to have access to the personal data of 120 million accounts, offering to sell them at 8p per profile, according to the BBC. Much of the information from the 120 million accounts may have just been scraped from publicly available Facebook accounts from people who haven't set their privacy settings to anything very restrictive.

Your private messages on Facebook may be up for sale. However, the BBC did confirm that more than 81,000 accounts published as a sample contained private messages and that five Russian users affirmed that their messages were among them.

Numerous messages are relatively benign and include simple chats about going on vacation and attending concerts.

Sample message topics ranged from photos of a vacation and talk about a recent Depeche Mode concert to complaints about a son-in-law and intimate chat between two lovers.