Private messages of 120 mn Facebook users hacked, says BBC report

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What's going on: Hackers told BBC News they have access to 120 million accounts, which they are attempting to sell to interested parties.

Facebook, however, said its systems were not breached as part of the hack.

And the data had probably been obtained through malicious browser extensions. The breach was discovered in September when a user named FBSaler put out an ad on an English-language internet forum offering access to the data at 10 cents a handle.

After performing some investigation, security firm Digital Shadows confirmed that about 81,000 profile had private messages.

"We have contacted browser-makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores".

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The other key difference between the two hacks are the targets: the personal information that was stolen seemed primarily to focus on American accounts while the more recent browser hack targeted users living in Ukraine and Russian Federation.

Facebook became aware of the website hawking information from user accounts and started investigating about a month ago. But as you'd expect, there are also more sensitive discussions, including "intimate correspondence between two lovers", as the BBC describes it.

According to Facebook, it was one such extension that quietly monitored victims' activity on the platform and sent personal details and private conversations back to the hackers. An additional 176,000 accounts had data that could have been scraped from public Facebook pages.

Independent cyber-experts have told the BBC that if rogue extensions were indeed the cause, the browsers' developers might share some responsibility for failing to vet the programs, assuming they were distributed via their marketplaces. Personal information leaks have come in all shapes and sizes, from third-party apps to GDPR infringements and, of course, the whole Cambridge Analytica debacle.

When asked about a possible connection to the Russian state or Kremlin-run programs like the Internet Research Agency, a representative for the hacking group only identified as John Smith said there was no connection.

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