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Facebook sues Canadian smut firm over hacking

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Facebook is suing a Canadian skin-flick firm for trying to hack into its website.

The porno outfit, which trades online under the name SlickCash, along with a number of individuals in Toronto allegedly tried to access Facebook's servers at least 200,000 times over two weeks in June. Istra Holdings Inc., a firm affiliated with SlickCash, is named alongside individuals Brian Fabian and Josh Raskin as defendants in Facebook's amended complaint. The suit also names Ming Wu and six as yet unnamed defendants.

Facebook filed the amended complaint last Wednesday after obtaining court orders forcing ISPs Rogers Communications and Look Communications to divulge subscriber information, the Toronto Star reports.

It's not terribly clear what data was accessed, much less the goals of the alleged attack. Court papers (PDF) allege the defendants uploaded scripted commands to a server run by a firm called Accretive to "gain unauthorised access and launch malicious code" on Facebook's site.

Facebook encourages users to post personal information such as birth date, hometown, email address, work details and even phone numbers online. This information is shared with a user's "friends" and, in a lot of cases, other on any network a user cares to join. The social networking utility boasts a membership of 34m users.

Any amount Facebook might hope to gain from this suit is surely outweighed by the damage to its already poor reputation for privacy. More than anything else the lawsuit emphasises that Facebook is an insecure place to post personal information. Since Facebook's business model, such as it is, relies on people coughing up this information, that's hardly a good thing.

SlickCash's alleged actions are also a bit of a puzzle. Experience suggests Facebook users are more than happy to allow access to all sorts of confidential info in return for nothing much more than a game. utility or pair of virtual magic beans. If someone wants user information then writing applications rather than straightforward brute-force hacking might be a more productive approach, you might think. ®

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