Facebook confirms 29m users' details stolen in security breach

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Facebook has said the attackers gained the ability to "seize control" of those user accounts by stealing digital keys the company uses to keep users logged in.

Hackers captured data from 30 million Facebook users in September.

The vulnerability has now been fixed, but not before the attackers used an automated technique to move from account to account so they could steal the access tokens of users, their friends, friends of their friends, and so on, totalling about 400,000 people. "Of the 50 million people whose access tokens we believed were affected, about 30 million actually had their tokens stolen" said Guy Rosen, the company's vice president of product management, in a statement.

A lucky 1 million users had no information scraped from their accounts by hackers.

Last month, Facebook was hit by the worst-security breach where the hackers accessed personal information of millions of users.

The hackers, who are still unknown, accessed names, email addresses and phone numbers of 15 million Facebook users, said Rosen.

In the coming days Facebook will be sending out personalized messages to each of the accounts compromised, detailing the extent of the information stolen and advice on how to avoid any damage the data theft could cause.

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Cyberattackers accessed that data plus additional information including gender, religion, hometown, birth date, and places they had recently "checked in" to as visiting, according to Facebook.

Lawmakers and investors have grown more concerned that Facebook is not doing enough to safeguard data.

The "view as" feature allows users to check their privacy settings by giving them a glimpse of what their profile looks like to others. That included posts on their Facebook timelines, and names of recent Facebook Messenger conversations. Rosen said he can't rule out that the different campaigns exploited the same vulnerability during that time. In late September, Facebook detected unusual activity, discovered the bugs and disabled them.

The breach was the latest privacy embarrassment for Facebook, which earlier this year acknowledged that tens of millions of users had their personal data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm working for Donald Trump in 2016.

Facebook said it took a precautionary step of resetting "access tokens" for another 40 million accounts which had accessed the "view as" function. The tech company has now issued an update that allows users to check whether they have been the victim of the data breach.

Rosen declined to say how the attackers went undetected for nearly two weeks as they accessed 30 million accounts.

Third party apps and other Facebook-owned apps like Whatsapp and Instagram were unaffected, the company said.

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