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Data Forensics Expert Witness:
Facebook Exposes Personal Data!

Electronic Evidence / Digital Forensics Articles

By Scott Greene

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Facebook recently released a statement detailing how over 6 million of its 1.1 billion users had their personal information unduly exposed. The cause?  A minor error in the software of one of its largest archives. This error inadvertently allowed unauthorized users to view confidential contact data (such as email addresses and phone numbers) without any need for a password. This could have been avoided. Facebook found evidence of the leakage dating back to 2012, but it was not publicly noticed and brought to their attention until June 18, 2013. Had Facebook been conducting thorough and consistent security audits, they could have lessened the exposure and avoided some very bad press.

Facebook Forensics Expert Witness

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Facebook has been in the news for its poor handling of data. In July 2012, there was a similar breach where a private security consultant used a piece of code to gather information on over 100 million profiles. This was not seen as a hot topic issue because the information gathered was not secured by the user, and therefore in the public domain. But, it does brings up some interesting points which many users seem to forget when they surf or post to social media.

For any social media sites, you should follow these rules:

Rule #1: Do not post private information on the internet, regardless of security or visibility options. If you are not comfortable with sharing your location with 1.1 billion users, it is strongly recommended you avoid posting that information. Be wary of who might use your profile against you.

Rule #2: Try to keep separate social media profiles for work and personal. LinkedIn and Facebook are perfect examples. LinkedIn, while useful for businesses, is not geared towards someone looking to keep in touch with friends and family. Facebook, is useful for both business and personal. But, keep in mind it is first and foremost a personal website.

Rule #3: Check your privacy settings. Facebook in recent years has really stepped up their game on how best to protect personal user data. One can now determine which posts and pictures can be seen by whom. You may decide you want your friends to see your new car, but do not necessarily want your jealous ex to know. This is done by simply changing the visibility setting on each post. It can also be done globally if you prefer.

Rule #4: The internet does not forget. Remember the ‘accidental’ drunken photo you posted online and thought you deleted? Odds are: somewhere out there remains a copy someone snagged before it was taken offline. This and other posts you might have created, could be used against you in a malicious manner. Think before posting. In other words: ‘Never post anything you don’t want printed on the front page of the paper.’

An amusing case to end on. A Wisconsin man claimed he could not pay child support. Yet he posted several pictures on his Facebook page showing him with several hundred dollars in cash. Needless to say, he is likely re-examining how best to protect his data as the judge at his hearing was not amused. He probably takes the phrase “think before you post” a little more seriously now.

 

 Scott Greene

Evidence Solutions, Inc.

Complex Electronic Evidence in PLAIN English.

Call us today with your Digital Evidence Questions: 866-795-7166 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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