Google+ to shut down after breach involving 500,000 users

Posted October 11, 2018

Now, eight months later, Google just notified users that "the experiment has now ended".

"We are shutting down Google+ for consumers", Smith added, admitting that the product was, at best, underwhelming.

Despite some news outlets focusing on Google+ shutting down, or on the data exposure itself, BuzzFeed News tech reporter Ryan Mac expressed that the real story was the company's response.

Google is also said to working on improving security elsewhere, including restricting developer access to things such as SMS, call logs, and contact data on Android and add-ons for Gmail.

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"This project looked at the operation of our privacy controls, platforms where users were not engaging with our APIs because of concerns around data privacy, areas where developers may have been granted overly broad access, and other areas in which our policies should be tightened", Smith said.

Google also announced that, "we can not confirm which users were impacted by this bug".

The profile data that was exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status; it didn't include phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data. "That means we can not confirm which users were impacted by this bug".

Android data access is being restricted to app developers. "When an app prompts you for access to your Google account data, we always require that you see what data it has asked for, and you must grant it explicit permission", he said. We believe it occurred after launch as a result of the API's interaction with a subsequent Google+ code change.

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According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the bug in the Google+ API existed between 2015 and March 2018, which was when Google discovered and fixed the bug. Google's public statements state that it has found no evidence that any user profile data has been misused.

According to The Australian, the Office will be seeking to find out the depth of the breach and how numerous 496,951 users affected by the breach were Australian. Users who granted third-party applications access to their public data also had some private data shared.

For Google, a data privacy reckoning may finally come as a result of a service that it admits nearly no one uses much anymore.

"Every year, we send millions of notifications to users about privacy and security bugs and issues".

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