Undisclosed data exposure by Google affects users in their hundreds of thousands:
A weakness faced by the Google+ social network resulted in up to half a million people using the platform from 2015 to March 2018 having their personal data
exposed, Google revealed on Monday. The search giant reported that there was no evidence to indicate data misuse. However, Google is planning on closing down the social network for good as part of the reaction to the unfortunate incident. This issue with Google+ has made many see the importance of cybersecurity.
The company failed to divulge the vulnerability in March when it fixed it because it was trying to avoid regulatory scrutiny by lawmakers. Going by the report,
Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, got informed about the decision not to reveal the discovery, only after an internal committee had come to a decision on the way
forward, reported the journal.
According to the company, the finding of the bug was made as a result of an internal review which was christened “Project Strobe”, an audit that was kickstarted
earlier in the year to evaluate whether third-party software developers have access to people’s data from Google accounts. The bug enabled apps to
access information found on a user’s Google+ profile that would be deemed private. This information constitutes things like gender, email address, age,
relationship status images, occupation, and places lived. Almost 438 apps on Google+ could access this API, although Google claims there is no proof that any
of the developers knew about the vulnerability.
Bens Smith, the VP of engineering posted in a blog how the review had brought to light the noteworthy challenges in creating and keeping up with a successful
Google plus that caters to customers’ expectations. In light of these challenges and the little use of the Google+ consumer version, the VP disclosed that the
company had decided to bring the Google+ consumer version to an end.
The news comes at a time when a number of companies in Silicon Valley have increasingly been subjected to scrutiny for their policies on data collection.
Facebook was first to bring the issue to light in March after its Cambridge Analytica expose. In the scandal, a digital data company based in the U.K. managed
to harvest information from 87 million Facebook accounts without consent from the company.
Google is already facing controversy over its practices on data collection. July saw the company getting criticism when it was reported that staff of a third-party
email application was able to read emails if those apps had been successfully integrated with the Gmail accounts of email users. The company was at the center
of another controversy just a month after this incident when the AP disclosed that Google was tracking people’s locations. This is even after they had turned off
the location history setting on their phones.
In the last month, Keith Enright, Google Chief Privacy Officer alongside other reps from telecom giants like Amazon, AT & T, and Apple testified before
senators on privacy practices of Silicon Valley. Google CEO, Sundar Pichai is expected have his turn on the hot seat in a similar congressional hearing which
will be held after the November midterm elections in the U.S.