Feeds

Facebook bug allowed users to eavesdrop on chats

When private conversations aren't

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

Facebook engineers on Wednesday disabled the site's live chat function after people outside the company discovered a bug that allowed users to eavesdrop on their friends' conversations.

The site - whose founder insists "people have really gotten comfortable sharing more information" with world+dog - also had to take emergency action to correct a separate hole that allowed users to see their friends' pending friend requests.

Ironically, the gaffes were the result of a new "preview my profile" service Facebook added late last month in an effort to give users more control over their privacy settings. Facebook said they had persisted for "a limited period of time," but wasn't any more specific.

In a statement issued a few hours after the bug was reported by TechCrunch, Facebook said it temporarily suspended the chat function while it patched the information leak. With that work completed, it said it expected to turn chat back on "shortly."

Over the past month, Facebook has been under siege by a variety of critics who say the site is imperiling the privacy of its 400 million or so users. Even Chris Kelly, Facebook's former privacy chief, has jumped on the bandwagon. Last month, while stumping to be California's next attorney general, he took pains to distance himself from the most recent policy shift, which automatically shares user data with partners.

"I strongly encourage Facebook to structure all its programs to allow Facebook users to give permission before their information is shared with third parties," he wrote.

The video below demonstrates the Facebook chat eavesdrop bug before it got squished.

®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
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
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.