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Student reprimands Facebook for bad manners and exposed code

Rebuke comes amid new leak of purported Facebook code

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McNeely expected that would be the end of it until the code ended up surfacing on Facebook Secrets, a site hosted on Blogspot that appears to have been created following the code leakage. Despite the formidable firepower of Facebook's legal team, the code remains on the Google-owned site at the time of writing, more than 72 hours after it first went up.

What's more, a second entry was made to Facebook Secrets that purports to offer another sampling of Facebook code. Facebook didn't respond to our request for comment, so there was no way for us to confirm the claim is genuine. (The code wasn't a part of the posting McNeely made over the weekend, and he says he has no idea where it came from.)

But Robert Hansen, a security researcher specializing in Web 2.0 applications, has examined the latest disclosure and said it appears to be as advertised. For example, one section beginning with the line require_js('js/editregion.js'); clearly corresponds to this section of the Facebook site.

And that raises questions about security on the site. For one thing, if it proves to be actual Facebook source code, it suggests leaks are more common than company spinmeisters would have us believe. More importantly, the latest disclosure, in contrast to the first one, goes well beyond the mere reprinting of interface code, which is of little use to someone looking for security holes.

"It gives enough information for an attacker to know where they should or shouldn't be attacking," Hansen said of the latest code disclosure.

The company said yesterday that configuration errors led to the leak of a limited amount of code and assured users security was just fine. Nothing to see here. Move along.

But like Hansen, McNeely isn't so sure. The second thing the Oklahoma grad has derived from the episode is that the Facebook can leak like a sieve. He says this isn't the first time PHP code has spontaneously appeared on his browser while surfing Facebook, and that's made him think twice.

"The type of error they got because of some misconfigured server, that tells me they're not secure," he said. "I'm not a programmer, but I can read code. In my opinion facebook is vulnerable." ®

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