Hackers stole the private messages of over 81,000 Facebook accounts

Hackers stole the private messages of over 81,000 Facebook accounts

Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC), which is Facebook's lead privacy regulator in Europe, has opened a formal investigation into this data breach that could result in a fine of $1.63 billion.

What's going on: Hackers told BBC News they have access to 120 million accounts, which they are attempting to sell to interested parties. The breach forced millions of Facebook's users across the globe to log out of their accounts as the company "reset the access tokens of the nearly 50 million accounts that were affected to protect their security".

The private Facebook messages of at least 81,000 people have reportedly been stolen, probably due to an exploit in a browser extension, and compromised accounts are now apparently up for sale for just $0.10 (£0.08) apiece.

It doesn't appear that Facebook accounts were directly compromised.

The breach was first discovered in September. Third-party browser extensions that were installed by the users themselves and later exploited by hackers.

As per the report, most users whose accounts were compromised are based in Ukraine and Russian Federation, though some are from the UK, US, Brazil and elsewhere as well.

Pompeo, Brazilian president-elect speak over phone on ties, Venezuela
But Tang also warned that China could retaliate if the rhetoric is not softened. "Mr. He said he preferred to "focus on the relationships and bilateral agreements".

But the hack is still bad news for Facebook.

Facebook became aware of the website hawking information from user accounts and started investigating about a month ago.

The BBC Russian Service reached out to five Russian Facebook users whose data were purportedly involved in the breach, confirming the authenticity of the private messages.

So far only 81,000 users had their conversations leaked online but, according to the group that obtained all the data, over 120 million accounts could be affected. This seems unlikely, however, as Facebook would have noticed such a substantial breach, according to cyber-security company Digital Shadows, which has been working with the BBC.

Guy Rosen, Facebook's VP Product Management, said the company has contacted browser makers to ensure the infected extensions are no longer offered for download in their stores. However, the data on them could have been scraped from publicly-available information.

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