Feeds

Facebook security hole exposes Paris Hilton's . . . um, pics

Zuckerberg's private moments on display too

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A week after Facebook executives introduced new security features to great fanfare, a glitch on the popular social networking site has exposed private pictures of Paris Hilton to anyone with an internet connection.

The Associated Press, which broke the story, was able to use the same, er, hole to view Italian vacations, office gatherings and holiday parties, all which had been designated as private by the people who had posted them. The AP even browsed through a personal photo album Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted in November 2005. We assume the album displayed shots of Zuckerberg being aloof with his family and co-workers.

It was only last week that Facebook rolled out new settings meant to give users tighter control over who can access the content they put on profile pages. Facebook execs specifically touted the increased ability to restrict photo albums and contacts to all but a select number of people designated as friends.

But according to blog posts, this feature was easily circumvented by guessing the ID of a photo. Facebook, according to the posts, didn't bother to check for user permissions, and it even gave hints about what the ID of recent photos might be. While the loophole had been circulating for weeks, Byron Ng, a computer technician from Vancouver, was credited with bringing it to light.

This isn't the first time a social networking site has leaked information it promised to keep private. In June, it was disclosed that Facebook was divulging users' political views, religious background and other sensitive details to the world at large even when that information was supposed to be given only to a user's designated friends. MySpace has made similar gaffes.

All of which serves as a reminder that we'd do well to bring a healthy dose of skepticism to any online purveyor's promise to keep digital information private. Once the information is out, it's out forever and could potentially be available to prospective employers, police and future spouses. If the snapshots, contacts or other data are sensitive enough to be designated private, it might be better to keep them off a free social networking site altogether.

Facebook appears to have closed the loophole several hours after the story broke. We're still searching for the Paris Hilton pics and will be grateful to anyone who can direct us toward one. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.