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Facebook fixes 'Peeping Tom' webcam bug - AFTER 5 MONTHS

While Zuck's little sister lectures world+dog on privacy

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Facebook had a busy time over the holiday period fixing several security flaws, including a webcam-related vulnerability that allowed hackers to record video from a user's web camera and post it on their timeline.

"An attacker could trick a user to silently record his webcam video and publish it to his Facebook wall, without the user even knowing about it," according to Aditya Gupta, the Indian security researcher who discovered the flaw. Gupta and fellow security researcher Subho Halder from XY Security earned a $2,500 reward from Facebook for discovering the Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) bug, which stemmed from a failure to apply adequate security controls. Gupta notified Facebook about the "Peeping Tom" bug in July but the social networking giant only recently rolled out a fix.

A video by XY Security illustrating the resolved webcam vulnerability can be found here.

Days after news on the webcam vulnerability became public, Facebook was obliged to respond quickly to a flaw in its New Year "Midnight Delivery" messaging service. The service delivers New Year's messages from Facebook users to their selected pals at the stroke of midnight on 31 December, whether or not the user is online.

However, URL tweaking made it possible to see the intended recipients, and the contents of message. Senders of the messages were not revealed, but even so it was a huge privacy snafu. Fortunately Facebook acted promptly to suspend the service and fix the problem before restoring the service in time for the dawn of 2013, The Next Web reports. Security blogger Jack Jenkins was first to notice the bug, which had the potential to expose private message between secret lovers and other juicy information, assuming the parties involved were daft enough to use Facebook to exchange such sensitive information.

In other Facebook-related privacy news, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Mark Zuckerberg and a former Facebook executive, complained after a family photo went viral after she uploaded it to Facebook. Randi Zuckerberg intended that the photo would only be seen by her friends. However this plan went awry after the photo appeared in the feed of Callie Schweitzer of Vox Media, who reposted it on Twitter, since when the image has taken on a life of its own. The photo itself captured her family's exaggerated reaction to Facebook's new "Poke" app.

Schweitzer didn't know Randi Zuckerberg, but she was a friend of one of Schweitzer's sisters, hence the appearance of the photo in her timeline. Rather than complaining about Facebook's privacy settings, the sister of the tech titan decided to rebuke the blameless Schweitzer (who apologised), via a Diva-like Twitter update.

Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend's photo publicly. It's not about privacy settings, it's about human decency

More reaction to this grandstanding can be found in a story by The Guardian here. ®

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