Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Google to finally shut down Google Plus as massive security breach revealed

Google to finally shut down Google Plus as massive security breach revealed

Per WSJ, a "software glitch" allowed user data to be potentially exposed to unwanted eyes from 2015 all the way through March 2018 when Google learned about it.

The company discovered the issue right when the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal was still fresh on everyone's minds. The same report claimed Google covered the incident instead of making it public, fearing "immediate regulatory interest".

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, according to WSJ. Thankfully, according to Google, no developer was aware of the bug, was misusing the Google+ API, or had misused private data from users' profiles. "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", he said. The internal memo from the legal and policy staff said that the company had no evidence of any attack exploiting this vulnerability, but there was also no way to know for sure. The company announced today that it's killing the consumer version of Google+ after it discovered some major privacy issues with the official Google+ APIs.

Earlier this year, Facebook acknowledged that tens of millions of users had personal data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm working for Donald Trump in 2016. To make matters slightly more troubling, Google only keeps this particular API's data log for two weeks...so the company has no way of knowing which users were affected.

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Google has announced that it's kicking its floundering social media platform Google+ to the curb, some seven years after it was first introduced.

The bug was a part of a flaw in an application programming interface (API) Google created to help app developers access profile and contact information for users who sign up for the service, including information shared with Google+. Gmail add-ons access will also be limited. Deleting the profile will impact content on Google+, Google+ Pages, and a linked Youtube account if you have one.

Google does not yet have a lead EU Supervisory authority, as the breach apparently happened before the EU's new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), was implemented. "Earlier this year, right at the time they discovered this, the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data breach had just happened, there's a lot of regulator scrutiny of Facebook and tech companies and how they're handling data, and internally, they were anxious about being pulled into this conversation in a bigger way".

Google came under criticism for refusing to send a top executive to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on September 5 about efforts to counteract foreign influence in USA elections and political discourse.

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