Feeds

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

Zuckerberg's private moments on display too

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
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
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
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.