Feeds

Facebook bug spills name and pic for all 500 million users

Just add email address

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New twist as rogue antivirus enters death throes
That's not the website you're looking for
ISIS terror fanatics invade Diaspora after Twitter blockade
Nothing we can do to stop them, says decentralized network
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned 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.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
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.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.