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Google+ to be killed after bug exposed up to 500,000 accounts
09 October 2018, 10:17 | Jodi Jackson
Google+ to Shut Down Following Bug That Exposed 500K Profiles
After seven highly unsuccessful years, Google+ is effectively dead. It will take 10 months to completely close the service, and a version for businesses will remain open.
Googlesaid the affected data was limited to static optional Google+ profile fields including names, email addresses, occupations, gender and age.
Given the potential for abuse, and the fact that nearly no one is usingGoogle+, Alphabet opted to take the path of least resistance and yank the doddering network off life support.
But the company kept it open long enough to cause an embarrassing privacy gaffe that could give Congress an excuse to enact tighter controls on data collection.
Google said it hasn't yet found any evidence that the data obtained as a result of the bug was misused.
As for the possible data exposure, Google found a bug in an API that developers could use that exposed profile data for up to 500,000 people, even if you had marked it as private. Even in that short amount of time, Google's audit found that almost half a million Google+ accounts could have been affected in just 14 days' worth of analysis.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Google had opted not to disclose the issue with its Application Program Interfaces (API) partly due to fears of regulatory scrutiny, citing unnamed sources and internal documents. Googleconfirmed that it had discoveredthe bug in March, but would not say when it became active.
The issue apparently came about when a user granted permission to an app, allowing it to access their public data.
Without Google Plus, the OpenSim community will be left without a viable social networking platform.
It also announced other security features. As of the time of this writing, it is impossible to know who had what information leaked. For one thing, soon, only Android apps which the user has assigned as their default for use will be allowed to request certain permissions like making calls and sending SMS. They're also limiting app's access to your Gmail account moving forward, so only apps that "directly enhance" email functionality (like email clients and backup services) will be able to access your Gmail messages. It also promises to provide consumers with more information, including options for downloading and migrating data, over the coming months.
According to the Journal, Google's legal and policy team warned senior executives at the company that disclosing the security flaw could lead to "immediate regulatory interest".
Google found up to 438 apps that used this API and 496,951 users may have been affected by this bug. As for why it's being shut down, Google says that Google+ has "low usage and engagement", with 90 percent of G+ user sessions lasting less than five seconds.
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