In light with Google’s announcement of shutting down Google+…
In light with Google’s announcement of shutting down Google+ for consumers because of an undisclosed data breach caused by a bug that leaked private information to Google+ applications via the API, heated debates and talks about data privacy and internet regulations are in the works again.
From small-scale privacy cracks to widespread data breaches, more and more users are at risk for identity theft, financial loss, fraud, and other legal cases; and not to mention the hassle that it’ll give you in trying to retrieve your accounts and secure them. And from Business Corporations, Banking/Credit/Financial Sectors and Government/Military Facilities to the Educational Sector as well as the Medical/Healthcare Facilities, all have experienced cyber attacks which lead to data breaches and consequences not only on the affected individual but the whole corporation as well.
Even big companies experience data breaches…
Here and there, everyone has heard about data breaches but not so much as the hit that Apple took back in 2014 (and another in 2017) when private information in the form of account statements, bank access, photos, videos and more of their 600 million iCloud customers have been hacked and leaked to the public. Another breach to data privacy that caught the media (and the whole wolrd!) by storm was when Yahoo! admitted that all of their 3 billion Yahoo! users where impacted by a security breach back in 2017.
And under all the scrutiny that Facebook gets on a daily basis because of issues with private information, the company took a huge hit when news of data violation (in the form of private information of nearly 50-80+ million Facebook users was breached) broke out in public.
Dubbed as the famous Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal of 2018 – where Cambridge-Analytica illegally harvested personal information of Facebook users for political purposes – both the government and individual users were alarmed with how data privacy was breached enabling Cambridge-Analytica to influence people in their political will. Through an app called thisisyourdigitallife, Cambridge Analytica was able to gather personal information of over 30 million users from which the company was able to devise a personality test that can compromise and influence the political will of the people.
When the scandal broke out, Facebook’s stocks and reputation plummeted as much as 22% since the company faced slow growth concerning new users. The government called for both parties to try and explain what happened, punish those responsible and enhance security to strengthen data policy.
“Breaches don’t just violate our privacy. They create enormous risks for our economy and national security.”
– Rohit Chopra, American Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
With the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that concerns all parties within the European Union and the European Economic Area, Facebook and Cambridge-Analytics have liabilities to the people and they will be facing various legal disputes.
Since then, over 87 million Facebook users are being contacted by Facebook through their news feed. All 2.2 billion Facebook users shall also receive notifications on how to protect their information starting with safeguarding the apps that they connect to and share their personal data with.
Talking about Data Privacy, one company that imposes the need for Data Security is Google. And therefore, after it was found out that one of their very own platforms had a data breach, the company decided to shut down the platform for Google+ consumers voluntarily.
Going over Google’s regular internal check-up which began earlier this year, Project Strobe began with the aim to review third-party developers that have access to Google accounts and data from Android applications. Project Strobe focused on reviewing developer access with APIs as well as other concerns with data privacy. The project stemmed four findings which all centred on how people share their data through Google+-related applications. Google found out that even though engineers and developers were continuously working to better the platform and strengthen security for consumer data, findings in Project Strobe showed that there was a bug in one of the Google+ APIs which allowed for details in user profiles not shared to the public to be dispensed to Google+ applications through the API.
After patching up the bug last March 2018 and updating their privacy security policies, Google still decided to shut down Google+ for consumers after failing to disclose the issue (at the same time Facebook was under scrutiny for about data breach and security) for almost 7 months before the news broke out early October 2018.
Google+ will still be available for Google’s internal use but it will no longer be available to the public.
What should we do and who can help?
Following various data breaches in the past couple of years, with Facebook and Google+ as the most recent ones, it is necessary to take precautions to safeguard personal data, especially in today’s digital world. Individuals and businesses alike should regularly update their access or login details whether these are for social media pages, website access, online banking accounts, etc. Doing a device audit can also help safeguard accounts by running a test to see what devices have attempted to and successfully able to access your accounts. Having two-factor authentication also helps with preventing suspicious login especially since verification details now show from where the attempted login is supposed to be happening.
For companies with clients in the European Union, adhering to the GDPR guidelines is a must, and they should be aware of their responsibilities especially with regards to consumer data privacy and security.
At Bureauserv, we can assist individuals and SMEs safeguard and manage their accounts by being updated with the latest news which shall inform us of possible threats and what actions are needed in order to prevent issues especially data breaches. Whether for Accounting & Bookkeeping, Digital Marketing, Customer Service, or Virtual Assistance services, at Bureauserv, you can make sure that we’ll do everything we can to help safeguard your accounts.