Facebook apps leaking private info: Symantec
VANCOUVER – Online security specialist Symantec says Facebook applications have accidentally leaked millions of pieces of personal information of users of the social networking site.
“Third parties, in particular advertisers, have accidentally had access to Facebook users’ accounts including profiles, photographs, chat, and also had the ability to post messages and mine personal information,” Symantec’s blog said.
“Fortunately, these third-parties may not have realized their ability to access this information. We have reported this issue to Facebook, who has taken corrective action to help eliminate this issue,” it said.
However, there is no certainty that this information has not been used.
“Facebook applications are Web applications that are integrated onto the Facebook platform. According to Facebook, 20 million Facebook applications are installed every day.
“Symantec has discovered that in certain cases, Facebook IFRAME applications inadvertently leaked access tokens to third parties like advertisers or analytic platforms. We estimate that as of April 2011, close to 100,000 applications were enabling this leakage. We estimate that over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties,” said company blogger Nishant Doshi.
“Access tokens are like ‘spare keys’ granted by you to the Facebook application. Applications can use these tokens or keys to perform certain actions on behalf of the user or to access the user’s profile. Each token or ‘spare key’ is associated with a select set of permissions, like reading your wall, accessing your friend’s profile, posting to your wall, etc.”