Facebook’s Massive Security Breach: Everything We Know | WIRED
Everything We Know About Facebook’s Massive Security Breach Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Facebook’s privacy problems severely escalated Friday when the social network disclosed that an unprecedented security issue, discovered September 25, impacted almost 50 million user accounts. Unlike the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a third-party company erroneously accessed data that a then-legitimate quiz app had siphoned up, this vulnerability allowed attackers to directly take over user accounts.
The bugs that enabled the attack have since been patched, according to Facebook. The company says that the attackers could see everything in a victim’s profile, although it’s still unclear if that includes private messages or if any of that data was misused. As part of that fix, Facebook automatically logged out 90 million Facebook users from their accounts Friday morning, accounting both for the 50 million that Facebook knows were affected, and an additional 40 million that potentially could have been. Later Friday, Facebook also confirmed that third-party sites that those users logged into with their Facebook accounts could also be affected .
“We were able to fix the vulnerability and secure the accounts, but it definitely is an issue that it happened in the first place.” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Facebook says that affected users will see a message at the top of their News Feed about the issue when they log back into the social network. “Your privacy and security are important to us,” the update reads. “We want to let you know about recent action we’ve taken to secure your account.” The message is followed by a prompt to click and learn more details. If you were not logged out but want to take extra security precautions, you can check this page to see the places where your account is currently logged in, and log them out. Facebook has yet to identify the hackers, or where they may have originated. “We may never know,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of product, said on a call with reporters Friday. The company is now working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations to identify the attackers. A Taiwanese hacker named Chang Chi-yuan had earlier this week promised to live-stream the deletion of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook account, but Rosen said Facebook was “not aware that that person was related to this attack.” “If the attacker exploited custom and isolated vulnerabilities, and the attack was a highly targeted one, there simply might be no suitable trace or intelligence allowing investigators to connect the dots,” says Lukasz Olejnik, a security and privacy researcher and member of the W3C Technical Architecture Group. On the same call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated previous statements he has made about security being an “arms race.” “This is a really serious security issue, and we’re taking it really seriously,” he said. “I’m glad that we found this, and we were able to fix the vulnerability and secure the accounts, but it definitely is an issue that it happened in the first place.” The social network says its investigation into the breach began on September 16, when it saw an unusual spike in users accessing Facebook. On September 25, the company’s engineering team discovered that hackers appear to have exploited a series of bugs related to a Facebook feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. The ” View As ” feature is designed to allow users to experience how their privacy settings look to another person. The first bug prompted Facebook’s video upload tool to mistakenly show up on the “View As” page. The second one caused the uploader to generate an access token—what allows you to remain logged into your Facebook account on a device, without having to sign in every time you visit—that had the same sign-in permissions as the Facebook mobile app. Finally, when the video uploader did appear in “View As” mode, it triggered an access code for whoever the hacker was searching for. “This is a complex interaction of multiple bugs,” Rosen said, adding that the hackers likely required some level of sophistication. That also explains Friday morning’s logouts; they served to reset the access tokens of both those directly affected and any additional accounts “that have been subject to a View As look-up” in the last year, Rosen said. Facebook has temporarily turned off “View As,” as it continues to investigate the issue. “It’s easy to say that security testing should have caught this, but these types of security vulnerabilities can be extremely difficult to spot or catch since they rely on having to dynamically test the site itself as it’s running,” says David Kennedy, the CEO of the cybersecurity firm TrustedSec. The vulnerability couldn’t have come at a worse time for Facebook, whose executives are still reeling from a series of scandals that unfolded in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election. A widespread Russian disinformation campaign leveraged the platform unnoticed, followed by revelations that third-party companies like Cambridge Analytica had collected user data without their knowledge.
“There simply might be no suitable trace or intelligence allowing investigators to connect the dots.” Security Researcher Lukasz Olejnik The social network already faces multiple federal investigations into its privacy and data-sharing practices, including one probe by the Federal Trade Commission , and another conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Both have to do with its disclosures around Cambridge Analytica. It also faces the specter of more aggressive regulation from Congress, on the heels of a series of occasionally contentious hearings about data privacy. After Facebook’s announcement Friday, senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who serves as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for a “full investigation” into the breach. “Today’s disclosure is a reminder about the dangers posed when a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax are able to accumulate so much personal data about individual Americans without adequate security measures,” Warner said in a statement. “This is another sobering indicator that Congress needs to step up and take action to protect the privacy and security of social media users.” Facebook may also face unprecedented scrutiny in Europe, where the new General Data Protection Regulation , or GDPR, requires companies disclose a breach to a European agency within 72 hours of it occurring. In cases of high risk to users, the regulation also requires that they be notified directly. Facebook says it has notified the Irish Data Protection Commission about the issue. This is the second security vulnerability that Facebook has disclosed in recent months. In June, the company announced it had discovered a bug that made up to 14 million people’s posts publicly viewable to anyone for days. This is the first time in Facebook’s history, though, that users’ entire accounts may have been compromised by outside hackers. Its response to this vulnerability—and the speed and comprehensiveness of the important disclosures ahead—will likely be of serious importance. Once again, all eyes are on Mark Zuckerberg. Additional reporting by Lily Hay Newman. More Great WIRED Stories Everyone wants to go to the moon— logic be damned College Humor gives comedy subscription a serious effort Tips to get the most out of Screen Time controls on iOS 12
Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings Were a Case Study in GOP Misogyny
Meet the new, sensitive GOP. Photo: Tom Williams/AFP/Getty Images Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today, the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.
Going into the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, critics questioned the choice of Republicans to cede many of their questions to Rachel Mitchell, a veteran sex crimes prosecutor . Was the hearing fair?
The hearing was a travesty, at once tragic, corrupt, and hateful.
The decision of the 11 Republican men on the committee to delegate their questioning to a prosecutor Mitch McConnell called a “female assistant” wasn’t even the most outrageous aspect of the proceedings. It says much about the hearing as a whole that while Mitchell did the men’s dirty work — failing to pursue any evidence that might corroborate Christine Blasey Ford’s narrative (e.g., a conspicuous entry in Kavanaugh’s Summer of ’82 calendar ) — she too was in the end was belittled for the failing of being a woman. Banished to her seat at the children’s table soon after Kavanaugh started to testify , she sat in humiliated silence while Lindsey Graham and his bros took over the questioning to beat up on Ford in absentia once her testimony had ended.
The ways in which this shitshow was not fair are many. A fair hearing would have called witnesses, and not just Mark Judge, to testify under oath about the incidents ostensibly being adjudicated, so that their unvetted public statements could be subject to cross-examination. A fair hearing would not have subjected a sexual-assault victim to a sex-crimes prosecutor while shielding the accused from equal scrutiny. A fair hearing would not have allowed men, from the doddering, filibustering chairman Chuck Grassley to Kavanaugh himself, to interrupt, condescend to, and talk over the questioners, particularly women on the committee. A fair hearing might also have been abetted by a coordinated line of inquiry from the Democrats, who often repeated each other’s questions (netting the identical answers) instead of collaborating on a comprehensive strategy that would advance the unraveling of Kavanaugh’s dishonest defense. Indeed, the Democratic men would have been well advised — as some had suggested — to turn over most of the questioning to Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, experienced prosecutors who in their allotted five minutes each drew blood and forced Kavanaugh to bare his teeth in contempt of their gender . But alas, Democratic men will also be men. Each needed his moment center stage. So instances of Kavanaugh’s lying, including those not directly related to Ford’s testimony, both in real time and in the past , went largely unmentioned and unaddressed. The Democrats also failed to debunk Kavanaugh’s repeated misrepresentation that Ford’s friend Leland Keyser had rebutted her account of what happened that summer night in 1982 .
Jill Abramson, the co-author (with Jane Mayer) of Strange Justice, the definitive account of the Clarence Thomas–Anita Hill debacle, had it right when she wrote on the eve of this hearing that it had a “predetermined outcome.” Like the 1991 template, in which the showily pious Republican senator John Danforth served as a beard for his peers’ cynicism, the 2018 replay had the window dressing of its own moralistic Hamlet, Jeff Flake .
Donald Trump’s views are notoriously influenced by how things look on TV . With the country watching, how did Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford do?
By many accounts, even Trump was somewhat disarmed by Ford’s testimony — at least enough so to worry, with good reason, that she might impress most of those watching (if not his own base) as credible, courageous, and deeply moving. He was worried as well because in his view Kavanaugh’s pre-hearing prime-time appearance on Fox News had been a flop . He didn’t like his nominee’s PR strategy of presenting himself as a choirboy.
The Kavanaugh that emerged at the hearing understandably was much more to Trump’s liking — he dropped the Mr. Nice Guy pose and let his full Trump roar. He emerged as a bully, a screamer, a conspiracy theorist, a rabid partisan, and a guilt-free purveyor of falsehoods big and small (including about instantly Google-able definitions of sexual terms he used in his high-school yearbook ).
For all his self-congratulation about the many (good-looking) women he has appointed clerks , he also behaved like an unalloyed misogynist. In his Fox News interview, he had revealed his contempt for women subtly — by stepping in to man-answer a question the interviewer posed to his wife. In the hearing, he did just what Trump would do: accusing a woman who dared question him (Klobuchar) of the accusation she had raised about him (drinking to excess) . If anything, he out-Trumped Trump in one area: While Trump is a teetotaler, Kavanaugh has the personality of a raging, self-pitying, out-of-control drunk. (He seems to think drinking doesn’t count as long as it’s beer.) As he tried to shut Klobuchar down with his bullying and bellowing, it was all too easy to visualize him pushing his hand on the teenage Ford’s mouth to stop her from screaming for help during an attempted rape. It was hardly a surprise that Kavanaugh said he didn’t deign to watch Ford’s testimony.
Trump didn’t think John McCain was a hero, but he was thrilled by Kavanaugh. No wonder. Kavanaugh stood up to Ford and his other accusers as Trump has to the nearly two dozen women (we know about) who have accused him of sexual assault. In light of a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist pre-hearing poll showing that a majority (54 percent) of Republicans believe that Kavanaugh should be on the court even if it’s true that he assaulted women , he is the ideal Supreme Court justice for the party of Trump. We should not forget, however, that this misogynist culture ruled the GOP well before Trump came along: Grassley, Orrin Hatch, and Lindsey Graham, among so many others, were there first.
Whether in the Senate chamber or out in America, what has this hearing changed, and what has it not?
About the only positive change to come out of this hearing — and I am being facetious — is that we now know that Republican men have been carefully schooled on how to profess “respect” for female victims of sexual assault. They have become expert at intoning that they care about rape victims because they are speaking “as the father of daughters” — as if those of us who are the fathers of sons, or those men who aren’t fathers at all, needn’t give a damn about women who are abused by men. These senators’ behavior at the hearing amply demonstrated that they don’t mean a word of the flowery sentiments some strategist has forced them to memorize. As committee chairman, Grassley set the tone. “You got what you wanted — I’d think you’d be satisfied,” he snapped at Klobuchar as if she were a maidservant after she thwarted his attempt to bulldoze her. Out in the hallway during a break, Lindsey Graham “praised” Ford by calling her “a nice lady” ; Hatch’s term of choice was “attractive.” The guiding principle of the hearing, subscribed to by all of these Republican senators, was that men are the victims most worthy of our sympathy in sexual assaults, not women. The grievance of white male victimization — by women, by minorities, by elites — is Trumpism at its ugliest core.
More than a quarter-century later, it feels as if very little has changed since Clarence Thomas was elevated to the court, #MeToo notwithstanding. Had Ford not been white — and from the professional class — you have to wonder whether the Republican men on the committee would have completely dropped their patently phony pretense of concern for her welfare and stabbed her in the front instead of the back. What will follow now is a national tsunami of rage much as there was after the sliming of Anita Hill. And the aggrieved will not just be those “suburban women” politicos keep pigeon-holing, but most women, and more and more men. We have to hope that this rage will sweep more women into office as it did in 1992, the so-called Year of the Woman. And sweep some women out, too, including Susan Collins, whose tired act — repeated, feckless expressions of being “concerned” about Trumpian horrors while doing nothing about them — should be punished by Maine’s voters when she’s up for reelection in 2020.
What an awful day. My colleague at Veep, the showrunner David Mandel, is a master of finding dark humor in Washington horrors, but he reflected my mood, and I imagine that of many, when he said after these hearings that “it’s starting to seem like it was an accident that the country worked as long as it did.” As I write, there’s a faint hope Kavanaugh will not make it to the Court. There’s a less faint hope that the GOP will lose control of at least one chamber of Congress in November.
But even if those battles are won, the fact remains that America has a major political party more dedicated than ever to stripping women of power by any ruthless means it can.
Tags: the national circus the kavanaugh hearings brett kavanaugh christine ford donald trump More Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings Were a Case Study in GOP Misogyny Promoted
Andrew Sullivan: At Kavanaugh-Ford Hearings Everyone Lost
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh at a hearing on Thursday, September 27, 2018 on Capitol Hill. Photo: Melina Mara/Getty Images Yesterday was a spectacle I hope we do not have to experience again. We watched two human beings, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, exposed in the rawest possible fashion to the entire world, over the gravest of accusations, with no definitive evidence apart from personal testimony to draw on, 36 year s after an alleged crime took place. It was a grotesque political drama, in which everyone lost.
Both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh have been traumatized and ill-served by the process. At the all-day Senate hearing, there was no real sifting of evidence about her allegation that he sexually assaulted her, because nothing but memories were on the table. (We still don’t even know when or where the alleged attack happened.) Other witnesses were not called to testify, which they obviously should have been, if only to say (as they all have) that they had no memory of the event. So we were left to judge the credibility of two individuals, who both said they were 100 percent certain.
Christine Blasey Ford was not just credible, her account of her assault and trauma was deeply affecting. She was understandably anxious in such a setting, but kept her shit together, made her case poignantly and calmly — her moments of humor, her need for caffeine, her hair framing her glasses like wisteria were all thoroughly human. In her dignity and restraint and precision, she helped me and I’m sure many others better understand what sexual trauma is.
I do not believe she was making anything up. She has no reason to; she tried to avoid this; she wanted to keep this private; but she wanted, as a civic duty, to pass this along to the relevant authorities. I still don’t understand why Senator Feinstein didn’t immediately forward her letter to the FBI, whose job it is to do a background check on Kavanaugh, while keeping strict confidentiality in the process. Such a referral need not have outed Ford. It could have allowed for a proper investigation, and an airing of all this in a private session. I understand Republican suspicions of the way this turned out.
But once this all had happened, it should still have been perfectly reasonable to have a full FBI investigation, followed by a private hearing for senators to assess the facts of her allegation. The Republicans have no answer to why they won’t do that, and neither did Kavanaugh. That’s a huge mark against them, it seems to me. Just a week is all we would need. And if Kavanaugh is as innocent as he claims, an FBI inquiry would surely help him clear his name. Besides, there’s no rush, no mandatory deadline. The current Senate will be the same through next January. I’m not sure we would learn anything new from an FBI process that we don’t know already, but more scrutiny is never a bad thing. Maybe something would turn up.
Which brings me to Kavanaugh’s testimony, which was spellbinding in a different way. He behaved, it seemed to me, exactly as an innocent man would behave if accused of a crime in his teenage years — especially a crime that was unveiled by his political opponents at the very last moment. It was one that he could not possibly refute (no one can prove a negative) and it catalyzed a media frenzy — multiple gang rapes! — that continues to get more extreme every day. There’s a reason we have statutes of limitation. When alleged crimes happened decades ago, proof is very hard, and allegations much easier. And when the alleged perpetrator was also a minor, we’re in a very weird and difficult place.
As the afternoon went on, I found my mood swinging back to Kavanaugh’s defense. At first, I was shocked by what seemed to me to be his shouting and belligerence. But then he drew me in. Of course he was angry. Wouldn’t you be if you were innocent or had no idea where this allegation suddenly came from? He wasn’t being accused of sexual harassment, or sexual abuse as an adult in a way he could have refuted or challenged. His long-lost teenage years as a hard-drinking jock were now under the microscope. Even his yearbook was being dissected. Stupid cruelties and brags from teenage boys were now being used to define his character, dismiss his record as a judge, his sterling references, his respected scholarship, his devoted family, his relationship with women in every capacity. He had to fend off new accusations, ever more grave and ever more vague.
And there were times, it seems to me, that he simply couldn’t win. If he hadn’t hired and mentored many women, it would be proof he was a misogynist and rapist. But the fact that he did hire and mentor many of them was also proof he was a misogynist and a rapist, who only picked the pretty ones. If he hadn’t shown anger, he would have been obviously inhuman. When he did express rage … well, that was a disqualifying temperament for a judge. It didn’t help that the Democrats made no pretense of having an open mind, or that any glimpse at mainstream media — let alone media Twitter — revealed that it had already picked a side. This was, for the major papers, especially the New York Times , a righteous battle against another white straight male, and the smug, snarky virtue-signaling on Twitter was in overdrive. Even Kavanaugh’s choking-up was mocked — just another contemptible “bro-crier.”
And so when Lindsey Graham suddenly unloaded on the Democrats, I felt a wave of euphoria. “Yes,” I said to myself. “Go get ’em, Butters!” When Senator Blumenthal got all self-righteous about a single lie destroying someone’s credibility, I actually LOL-ed. Then I remembered all those op-eds and essays that decided to judge one moment in one man’s teens as somehow deeply revealing about … white privilege, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, toxic homosociality, bro culture, alcoholism, patriarchy … you name it, Kavanaugh was suddenly its foul epitome. He was an instant symbol of all the groups of people the left now hates, by virtue of their race or gender or orientation. And maybe he is. But did any of that necessarily make him guilty of anything, except by association?
At lunchtime, I thought he should withdraw. Ford was unforgettable, dispositive. But then the afternoon had me drifting back toward the Republicans. I doubt I am alone in this, just as I doubt my liberal friends understand how deeply they’ve alienated so many with their reflexive prejudices. By dinnertime, I felt like I’d vote for him, if I were a senator — because I found the Democrats so nauseatingly priggish. Then I remembered I was against the Kavanaugh nomination for other reasons entirely: especially because of his deference to presidential power when we face a president who would dearly like to blow a giant hole in the rule of law. And since I couldn’t in good faith choose between Ford and Kavanaugh about something that happened 36 years ago, I simply decided to put this accusation in a box. I’ll make a judgment on what I can know, not on what I cannot possibly judge.
But I will say this.
To the extent that the hearing went beyond the specifics of Ford’s allegations and sought to humiliate and discredit Kavanaugh for who he was as a teenager nearly four decades ago (a dynamic that was quite pronounced in some Democratic questioning of the nominee), it was deeply concerning. When public life means the ransacking of people’s private lives even when they were in high school, we are circling a deeply illiberal drain. A civilized society observes a distinction between public and private, and this distinction is integral to individual freedom. Such a distinction was anathema in old-school monarchies when the king could arbitrarily arrest, jail, or execute you at will, for private behavior or thoughts. These lines are also blurred in authoritarian regimes, where the power of the government knows few limits in monitoring a person’s home or private affairs or correspondence or tax returns or texts. These boundaries definitionally can’t exist in theocracies, where the state is interested as much in punishing and exposing sin, as in preventing crime. The Iranian and Saudi governments — like the early modern monarchies — seek not only to control your body, but also to look into your soul. They know that everyone has a dark side, and this dark side can be exposed in order to destroy people. All you need is an accusation.
The Founders were obsessed with this. They realized how precious privacy is, how it protects you not just from the government but from your neighbors and your peers. They carved out a private space that was sacrosanct and a public space which insisted on a strict presumption of innocence, until a speedy and fair trial. Whether you were a good husband or son or wife or daughter, whether you had a temper, or could be cruel, or had various sexual fantasies, whether you were a believer, or a sinner: this kind of thing was rendered off-limits in the public world. The family, the home, and the bedroom were, yes, safe places. If everything were fair game in public life, the logic ran, none of us would survive.
And it is the distinguishing mark of specifically totalitarian societies that this safety is eradicated altogether by design. There, the private is always emphatically public, everything is political, and ideology trumps love, family, friendship or any refuge from the glare of the party and its public. Spies are everywhere, monitoring the slightest of offenses. Friends betray you, as do lovers. Family members denounce their own mothers and fathers and siblings and sons and daughters. The cause, which is usually a permanently revolutionary one, always matters more than any individual’s possible innocence. You are, in fact, always guilty before being proven innocent. You always have to prove a negative. And no offense at any point in your life is ever forgotten or off the table.
Perhaps gay people are particularly sensitive to this danger, because our private lives have long been the target of moral absolutists, and we have learned to be vigilant about moral or sex panics. For much of history, a mere accusation could destroy a gay person’s life or career, and this power to expose private behavior for political purposes is immense.
I’m not equating an accusation of attempted rape in the distant past with sodomy. I am noting a more general accusatory dynamic that surrounded Ford’s specific allegation. This is particularly dangerous when there are no editors or gatekeepers in the media to prevent any accusation about someone’s private life being aired, when economic incentives online favor outrageous charges, and when journalists have begun to see themselves as vanguards of a cultural revolution, rather than skeptics of everything.
And for what it’s worth, I’m not sure we have any idea how the politics of this will play out. Both political parties may be pursuing pyrrhic victories. If the GOP manages to muscle Kavanaugh onto the court, it may galvanize the Democratic base to such an extent it will create a blue tsunami in November. It could poison the Republican brand for women even more than it is already.
But if this nomination falters, Kavanaugh will be a clarion call for Republicans to turn out. It could help them in November. And if Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett as a replacement in the lame duck session of the Senate, another attempt at character assassination will be a very risky option for the Democrats, as would be attacks on Barrett’s religious faith.
So on the substance of the Court’s future, it seems to me that the Democrats have ensured this past week that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, they will have created an embittered foe in the Thomas mold. And if they end up with Barrett, they will have have someone on the Court more certain to strike down Roe than Kavanaugh.
See you next Friday.
Tags: interesting times brett kavanaugh supreme court u.s. senate christine ford More + Comments Leave a Comment Andrew Sullivan: Everyone Lost at the Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing Most Viewed Stories Everyone Lost at the Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings George W. Bush Is Whipping Votes for Brett Kavanaugh Mediocre New on Netflix: October 2018 Lindsay Lohan Livestreamed Herself Accosting a Homeless Family and Accusing Them of Trafficking Most Viewed Stories Everyone Lost at the Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings George W. Bush Is Whipping Votes for Brett Kavanaugh Mediocre New on Netflix: October 2018 Lindsay Lohan Livestreamed Herself Accosting a Homeless Family and Accusing Them of Trafficking Promoted links by Taboola Sign up for the Daily Intelligencer newsletter
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1:15 p.m. Lindsey Graham Goes Savagely Partisan in Defense of Phony Bipartisanship The South Carolinian puts Washington on notice: when he chairs the Judiciary Committee next year, he’ll run it as an openly Republican operation.
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christine blasey ford Yesterday at 11:11 a.m. House Members Standing in Silent Protest of Kavanaugh Vote Led out by Police The women stood silently to oppose his confirmation.
interesting times Yesterday at 10:55 a.m. Andrew Sullivan: Everyone Lost at the Kavanaugh-Ford Hearings The process was broken. Justice was ill served. And democracy is worse off for all of it.
10:47 a.m. Democrats Walk Out of Kavanaugh Hearing Room, Decrying It As Totally Ridiculous “This is just totally ridiculous. What a railroad job.”
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