Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Technology | By Lionel Gonzales

How Google+ put thousands of users at risk

How Google+ put thousands of users at risk

This method will better secure third party APIs with Google services, allowing for less data to be given to outside applications.

The discovery would have been around the same time as social network giant Facebook was coming under fire after it emerged that as many as 87 million user profiles were harvested and sent to Cambridge Analytica, a political firm employed by the campaign to elect Donald Trump to the presidency. The lawsuit was blocked in the High Court on Monday.

Up to 500,000 people may have been affected by the flaw, which allowed hundreds of apps to access data including people's jobs, ages and location information.

In the Google+ incident, which the Wall Street Journal claims was kept hidden to avoid a regulatory backlash, users' details including names, dates of birth, relationship data, employers and job titles were potentially available to developers with access to its APIs.

Among other challenges such as a lack of engagement from users and enterprise - over 90 percent of sessions last less than 5 seconds - Google has announced in a post on its The Keyword blog that it will take 10 months to wind down the consumer-facing Google+ before shutting it down.

Google said it patched the bug in March this year, and Smith said Google found no evidence that any developer was aware of the bug or had abused the API.

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Google+, a social network that we can certainly say existed and not much more, is slated for a long-overdue trip down the memory hole.

Google says that going forward, rather than bundling permissions together for a single approval, each and every permission requested by an app will be shown one at a time, within its own dialog box. Today, after over 7 years of existence, Google is shutting down Google+ for good-although its low user base surprisingly wasn't the main factor behind this decision. The company has found no evidence that Profile data was misused.

The company also debuted a number of new privacy controls, including limiting the apps that can access Gmail, call log, and text messaging data.

The company added that it chose to sunset the consumer version of Google+ due to the significant challenges in creating and maintaining it and its very low usage.

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. That said, Google had confirmed that the data hasn't been misused.

Ortega said such delays in reporting data leaks could become more common among technology companies as they looked to protect their reputation in the wake of legislation and privacy laws.

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