Feeds

Facebook security hole exposes Zuckerberg's privates

And possibly yours, too

The essential guide to IT transformation

A security hole on Facebook has been exposing private pictures of countless users, including the Social Network's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

A photo pilfering exploit posted to a bodybuilding.com forum on Monday included step-by-step instructions for viewing pictures designated as private by the Facebook users who posted them. It worked by manipulating a feature that allows people to report inappropriate profile pictures to Facebook officials. The routine allowed snitches to report additional pictures, even when designations made the images off-limits to all but a select set of friends.

Not all the participants in the forum reported success. It would appear that those located in the US got better results than others. Several hours after the disclosure vulnerability was reported, 13 images purportedly lifted from Zuckerberg's account were posted below a headline that read: “It's time to fix those security flaws Facebook...”

They show Zuck wining and dining with friends, chatting with President Barack Obama, and holding what appears to be a freshly slaughtered chicken, in keeping with a recent predilection to eat only meat he has killed himself.

In a statement, Facebook officials said:

Earlier today, we discovered a bug in one of our reporting flows that allows people to report multiple instances of inappropriate content simultaneously. The bug allowed anyone to view a limited number of another user's most recently uploaded photos irrespective of the privacy settings for these photos. This was the result of one of our recent code pushes and was live for a limited period of time. Upon discovering the bug, we immediately disabled the system, and will only return functionality once we can confirm the bug has been fixed.

The privacy of our user's data is a top priority for us, and we invest significant resources in protecting our site and the people who use it. We hire the most qualified and highly-skilled engineers and security professionals at Facebook, and with the recent launch of our Security Bug Bounty Program (http://www.facebook.com/whitehat/ ), we continue to work with the industry to identify and resolve legitimate threats to help us keep the site safe and secure for everyone.

It's not the first time someone has figured out how to bypass Facebook permissions designed to give users tight control over who gets to see images and announcements posted to their pages. In 2008, a Canadian computer technician was able to view private photos of Paris Hilton, Zuckerberg, and others by guessing the ID of the photo. Last year, the social network was caught exposing the name and photo of all 500 million of its users when their email addresses were typed in to the log-in page.

Monday's discovery of yet another hole in Facebook's safety net is the latest reminder that the only way to be sure something doesn't get published to world+dog is to keep it off the internet in the first place. Permission systems such as those on Facebook and other sites may make users feel better, but they have little effect on hackers with enough determination or time on their hands. ®

This post was updated to include comment from Facebook.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
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.
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?