Feeds

Facebook bug spills name and pic for all 500 million users

Just add email address

Website security in corporate America

Updated A bug in Facebook's login system allows attackers to match unknown email addresses with users' first and last names, even when they've configured their accounts to make that information private.

The information leak can be exploited by social-engineering scammers, phishers, or anyone who has ever been curious about the person behind an anonymous email message. If the address belongs to any one of the 500 million active users on Facebook, the social-networking site will return the full name and picture associated with the account.

"Facebook users have no control over this, as this works even when you have set all privacy settings properly," Atul Agarwal of Secfence Technologies wrote Wednesday on the Full-disclosure security listserve. "Harvesting this data is very easy, as it can be easily bypassed by using a bunch of proxies."

Exploiting the vulnerability is as easy as entering the email address into the Facebook sign-on page, typing a random password and hitting enter. To streamline the attack, Agarwal has written a PHP script that works with large lists of email addresses.

Over the past few years, Facebook has come under criticism for revealing too much information about its users. The data — which can include users' birthdays, home towns and personal friends — can then be used by marketers, stalkers, and other ne'er-do-wells to invade the users' privacy. The social-networking site has responded by giving users more control over who gets to see select pieces of user information.

Evidently, the name-to–email address extraction bug has been overlooked. We wouldn't be surprised to see this fixed in short order. ®

Update

Indeed, at 8 pm Wednesday California time, about 10 hours after this article was published, the exploit no longer worked.

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.