Google Aware Of Large-Scale Data Breach But Chose Not To Disclose It

10 October, 2018, 16:29 | Author: Leah Owens
  • Social Network Google Plus Bug Exposed Data Of Lakhs To Be Shut Down

Google is closing its social network, Google Plus, following the discovery of a security breach this past spring, in which up to 500,000 customers (between 2015 and 2018) had their information exposed.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the company knew about the issue in March but did not disclose it.

Google+ was heavily promoted after its 2011 launch, in the hope of overtaking Facebook in the early days of social media.

A software bug was discovered that gave developers access to private profile data of over 500,000 users.

The real concern here is that Google reportedly became aware of the security glitch several months ago but failed to disclose the issue due to "fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage".

In a memo viewed by WSJ that was sent to senior executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, Google's legal and policy staff stated that disclosing the incident would trigger "immediate regulatory interest". The company has said it hasn't found any evidence that the exposed data was misused or inappropriately accessed by any third party. Google is also following from its limiting of Gmail scans by limiting which applications - namely, down to email apps - can do so.

The same month that the bug was discovered, Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data scandal came to light, prompting politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to call for hearings and regulation.

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The news comes just two weeks after Facebook revealed almost 50m users had been affected by a similar privacy lapse.

Ben Smith, Google Fellow and VP of Engineering, admitted in a statement "It [Google+] has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps". It's also limiting said apps' ability to access private data outside of specific use cases.

Because of all of this, Google announced that it would be shutting down Google+ for consumers.

Do share your thoughts and opinions on Google+ being shut down in the comments section below.

Now, "Only apps directly enhancing email functionality ... will be authorized to access this data", Smith assured.

"The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement", Smith notes in a new blog post.

Google+, a social network that we can certainly say existed and not much more, is slated for a long-overdue trip down the memory hole.

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