By James Wright
Facebook announced a major security breach into its network on Sept. 28. The company stated that hackers were able to gain access to about 50 million of the site’s accounts, though the company has not specified whether the hackers actually took control over and used these accounts or what the motive of the attack was, according to CNBC.
If successfully exploited by the digital criminals, cyber-security experts warn that Facebook users’ data could be used to commit identity theft or to blackmail other Facebook users, according to The Independent.
Several listings of people’s Facebook accounts are already available on the “dark web,” a section of the Internet that can only be accessed via special software. Accounts are on sale for as little as $3, according to The Independent.
Facebook shares have dropped more than 3 percent after news of the hacking broke, according to ETtech.
For many of the company’s users, the breach is reminiscent of the Cambridge Analytica scandal which made headlines this past spring. The U.K.-based conservative analytics firm obtained the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users, according to Fortune Magazine.
Facebook should expect the most severe punishment to come from online regulators, according to CNBC. Institutions such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission expressed their discontent with the company’s response to recent security breaches.
The GDPR has the ability to fine up to 4 percent of a company’s yearly turnover; the FTC can monitor companies’ activities even years after an incident. Facebook also faces lawsuit risks, especially by victimized customers, according to CNBC.
Security analysts believe that the high value of the data collected by cyber criminals means hackers will show no signs of stopping, and hacking will continue to be a lucrative endeavor, according to The Independent.
“‘Personal information is simply too valuable on the dark web,’” said Bill Conner, CEO of cyber-security firm SonicWall, according to The Independent.
Conner explained that perpetrators use personal data to hold victims ransom, extort information and destroy property.
“‘Organizations must exhaust all measures to diligently detect and protect their networks, devices and users,’” he said.