Facebook said Wednesday it is in touch with the Indian government “to share preliminary information” pertaining to a recent breach that had impacted 50 million accounts on the social networking platform. The US-based firm, which earlier this week was asked by the IT ministry to provide an update on the country-specific impact of the breach, said it is in the midst of working through the details of users affected in India.
“We are still working through the details of impacted users in India and will release more information once we have concluded our investigations,” a Facebook spokesperson said responding to an e-mail query by PTI. The IT ministry sources said the company has written to them on the issue but did not divulge details. “We are in touch with Government of India, to share preliminary information about the security issue we announced on September 28. We have taken immediate action and informed all our users, advertisers and secured their accounts,” the Facebook spokesperson said.
Last week, Facebook had said hackers had exploited a vulnerability in its system, impacting up to 50 million accounts. The US-based firm did not break down the country-specific impact at that time. Facebook, which has over 200 million users in India, counts the country among its largest userbases globally. Mark Zuckerberg, in a press call, had said the company’s engineering team, on September 25, found an attack affecting up to 50 million accounts on Facebook.
“The attackers exploited a vulnerability in the code of the ‘View As’ feature which is a privacy feature that lets people see what their Facebook profile would look like to another person,” he added. He had noted that since the investigation is still early, Facebook hasn’t yet been able to determine if there’s specific targeting.
Stating that hackers had tried to access profile information fields – like name, gender and hometown, Zuckerberg had said “we do not yet know if any private information was accessed that way”. Facebook had said it fixed the vulnerability and also informed law enforcement. Earlier in the year too, Facebook had courted controversy when UK-based data mining firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of harvesting personal data of 87 million global users of the social networking platform, illegally, to influence polls in several countries.
The company had drawn flak on the issue from policymakers across the world, including the Indian government that had shot off two notices to Facebook over the data breach. Zuckerberg during a joint hearing of the US Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees had apologised for the “major breach of trust” and promised to take steps to protect user data. In response to the first notice of the Indian government, Facebook had admitted that nearly 5.62 lakh people were “potentially affected” by the data breach incident.