Google big data breach

As per the recent report and confirmation from Google, Google+ has faced a major data leak that has compromised nearly 500,000 accounts. As per the report, Google was aware of the data breach from the March this month but kept hidden. As a result of Google big data breach, company is shutting down the social networking site. Google has confirmed that it is shutting down Google +, a social network that was launched to rival Facebook but failed to make an impact.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google found the software bug in its API in March 2018, though it had existed since 2015. The company also decided against reporting the incident because it “trigger immediate regulatory interest”, adds the report. WSJ quoted from an internal memo that was reviewed by Google’s legal and policy team and took the decision not to report the problem. CEO Sundar Pichai was kept in the loop on this decision.

The report says Google was worried that making this issue public would lead to comparisons with Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Talking about the incident, the company has written a blog post highlighting the issue of a data breach. In the blog, post company has admitted it does not even know which accounts were impacted.

An internal security team – called Project Strobe – at Google discovered the issue with Google+ and other privacy problems on products like Gmail and Android.  Project Strobe carried out what Google calls a “root-and-branch review of third-party developer access to Google account and Android device data.”

What has happened?

A review of APIs associated with Google+ revealed serious security flaws, and one bug in particular granted app developers’ access to user profile fields, which were not marked as public.

Essentially data which was supposed to be limited to friends and circles could also be accessed by some app developers.  In their Google+ profile, users can grant access to their Profile data and information from the public profiles of their friends to Google+ apps. The software bug was found in one of the Google+ People APIs.

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Google claims this data is just Profile fields like name, email address, occupation, gender, and age.  It insists that other data that users posted to Google+, or any other service, has not been leaked. The company has said that Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers or G Suite content had remained safe.

The company admits they found the bug in March 2018 but says they found no misuse of the data by app developers.

Google+ Is shutting down

Google claims that their review highlighted there are major challenges in maintaining their ‘social network’ and that because of the low usage, they have decided to end the consumer version of the site.

Google+ will start winding it down over a 10-month period, which will be completed by August 2019. Consumers will be given more information on how they can download and migrate their data. Google+ also has an enterprise version, and the company claims it is better.

“We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses,” notes the blog post.

What you should do to protect your account?

Google is not sure which accounts were compromised in this Google+ fiasco. However, users can go to their Google account settings, and open their Google Plus profile and delete the G+ account information. In the Google Plus profile, you will see the Settings option on the right Left-hand side, just below the notifications tab.

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Open the settings for Google+ and keep scrolling down. At the bottom, you will see an option to delete your Google+ Profile. Click on that, and Google will ask you sign in to your account once again on a separate page. You will then get an option to delete the Google+ account.

Google’s page notes, “Some data will be kept, and some data will be deleted or converted. You may lose access to some services and functionality.” For those who do not remember, Google had linked G+ to YouTube accounts, so keep in mind this will have some impact there.

The page notes, “Your YouTube channel will be kept, along with your videos and playlists. You will continue to have access to YouTube. Some YouTube-related content will be kept, while other content will be deleted.”

Google’s page notes, “For content created after November 2015, the content created on YouTube will be kept, while content created on Google+ will be deleted.”

The details further add any post you created on Google+ about one of your own videos will be deleted from Google+. If it is also visible on YouTube, it will continue to appear on YouTube.

Any comment you created on YouTube in response to a video, which is also visible on Google+ as a Google+ post, will still exist on YouTube but will be deleted from Google+.

Any comment you created on Google+ that is now only visible on YouTube, in relation to a post someone else made about a YouTube video, will still exist on YouTube.

Any +1 that you added on Google+ that is now only visible on YouTube as alike, in relation to a post someone else made about a YouTube video, will still exist on YouTube.

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Rahul is the founder and content producer at Viral Mobile Tech. He loves technology and mobile more than anything else. His 80% time goes in Playing with technology and reading about the new stuff. Exploring new technology is his passion.

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