Google Aware Of Large-Scale Data Breach But Chose Not To Disclose It

Gerardo Harmon
October 10, 2018

The company found no evidence the information was misused by any developers, Smith said.

This data is limited to static, optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age.

If there is a silver lining, phone numbers, email messages, timeline photos, direct messages, or any other type of communication data were not exposed, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google+ will, however, be kept alive for businesses, who use it as a secure place for co-workers to communicate.

As many as 438 applications had access to the unauthorized Google+ data, according to the Journal.

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The company says it discovered and patched the issue in March but decided not to disclose it immediately. "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", the company said.

A major security bug appears to also be to blame for the Google+ shutdown.

Google then noted how the site wasn't really becoming a strong social destination, despite the fact that it could link up with other pages such as Gmail, Blogger and YouTube. The US internet giant said that 90% of Google+ user sessions lasted only five seconds long or less.

The Wall Street Journal, reported that they have reviewed a memo prepared by Google's legal and policy staff, which indicated that disclosing the data breach could lead to scrutiny by government regulatory agencies.

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Google+ was created in 2011 and never seemed to gain much traction in the social media sphere, and eventually Google turned it into the underlying account infrastructure connecting its various Google software products, so you might not even realize if you're a member.

The security flaw existed for three years. Google said it hadn't found any evidence that "any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused". Before patching it, Google ran an analysis and found that up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were affected.

As a part of the announcement of the breach, Google has made a decision to implement more fine-grained permissions for accessing user data from apps. As a result, all European Union data protection authorities have jurisdiction to engage with Google on the breach. Gmail add-on access will also be restricted to a small number of developers as part of the moves.

Google has declined to comment on why it held off reporting the breach.

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