Facebook is accused of a major data breach associated with Cambridge Analytica

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Category: Badware News

Lately, Facebook has been accused of a serious data breach, which appears to have close ties with the Cambridge Analytica. Paul Grewal, VP & Deputy General Counsel at Facebook, issued a statement on 16 March regarding accusations that the social network has been directly involved in a massive data breach, which allegedly occurred in late 2015. As reported, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, a professor at the University of Cambridge, leaked users' data to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica and Eunoia Technologies, Inc. An act of such nature directly violates the platform's Privacy Policy.

The following statement, released on 17 March presents Facebook's stance on the issue. According to it, the social network tries to distance itself from the scandal and Dr. Aleksandr Kogan altogether. However, there is substantial belief that the company was well aware of this security breach and simply turned a blind eye on the issue.

The initial statement goes into detailed explaining how exactly Dr. Aleksandr Kogan gained access to almost 270,000 users' personal information. As it turns out, the professor in question had developed an application known as thisisyourdigiallife, which was allegedly designed as a psychological survey. Most users have been tricked into using this suspicious application since they were offered a monetary reward for taking the survey. Once the survey was filled out and sent back, developers of thisisyourdifitallife gained access to all the content that the user has liked on Facebook; also, they were able to see the user's Friends list and their geographical location.

A former Cambridge Analytica employee, and the whistleblower behind the whole Facebook-data-harvesting scandal, Christopher Wylie came out and stated that over 300 records could be gathered with every survey completed. At such pace, Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest over 50 million records a month with the help of a unique algorithm. All such data, according to Christopher Wylie, was then used to determine how users would vote in the U.S Presidential election.

The whole story exploded when it was discovered that Cambridge Analytica had ties to Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum. As all the facts rolled it, it came to light that Cambridge Analytica is, in fact, an American company run by a U.S billionaire Robert Mercer, who openly supports Donald Trump. On top of that, information came out that Steve Bannon, who played an instrumental role in the presidential campaign, was in charge of the company while the data breach was taking place.

Further investigations carried out by BBC and Chanel 4 News, indicate that Cambridge Analytica might have been directly involved in the Italian and Czech elections. Additionally, the Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), which is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, have gone as far as to claim that they were directly associated with the Ukrainian Orange Revolution.

As described by Christopher Wylie, who left Cambridge Analytica in 2014, the company exploited Facebook to harvest millions of peoples profiles and used all such data to harm the democratic process. Facebook claims it removed the suspicious app after learning about the security breach and asked involved parties to discard all the gathered information immediately. Additionally, they have suspended Cambridge Analytica form its platforms while they carry out a thorough investigation. British and U.S authorities are investigating the case as we speak.

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how much Facebook knew about the security breach. As of now, both companies involved in the controversy have cut ties and provide vague information at best. Further information will be coming out soon enough. However, at the moment, Facebook users should use the Settings panel to see what applications are associated with their account and how much information they can gather.

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