Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Technology | By Lionel Gonzales

Google Plus social network to shut down after major security lapse

Google Plus social network to shut down after major security lapse

Smith said that when users grant permissions to access SMS, Contacts and Phone data to apps, they do so with specific use cases in mind, again indicating that the present policies have given developers overly broad access to people's information.

Still, as part of the response to the incident, Google is planning to shut down the social network permanently.

A Wall Street Journal report published at the same time with Google's blog post claimed the API bug was far worse, and might have leaked user data since 2015, being only discovered when Google engineers started prodding Google sites for privacy leaks in preparation for the EU GDPR deadline.

In its blog post announcing the Google+ shutdown, Google says it found the vulnerability as part of its Project Strobe review of third-party developer access to Google account and Android device data.

Google plans to shutter its Google+ social network for consumers, citing its limited adoption with users. That includes details like email addresses, gender, age, images, relationship statuses, places lived and occupations.

Finding 1: There are significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ product that meets consumers' expectations. The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: "90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

The news comes as Silicon Valley companies have been increasingly scrutinized for their data collection practices.

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Earlier this year, Facebook acknowledged that tens of millions of users had personal data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm working for Donald Trump in 2016.

"Going forward, consumers will get more fine-grained control over what account data they choose to share with each app", Google said.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has agreed to testify before Congress in the coming weeks, according to the Journal.

Despite the security gaff, Google officials opted not to disclose the problem at the time over fear of intense criticism akin to what Facebook went through after its privacy problems.

Despite the social network closing down, you can still take action. Google account permissions will have more granular controls for each permission an app requests (see above). For example, 90 percent of G+ sessions latest less than five seconds. "None of these thresholds were met here", the spokesperson said.

The bug was patched two weeks after it was initially discovered (Google took two weeks to analyze the data before patching the hole), but has now made a decision to shut down Google+ as a consumer service.

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