Feeds

Facebook security hole exposes Zuckerberg's privates

And possibly yours, too

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

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.

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.