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Hackers Are Selling the Private Facebook Messages of 81,000 Accounts

04 November 2018

And the data had probably been obtained through malicious browser extensions.

And the hackers themselves, when contacted by the BBC, said the data had nothing to with the recent security breach or the data stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Further, it was found that email addresses and phone numbers could have been extracted from 176,000 more accounts.

As per Facebook, one of the extensions used closely-monitored users' activity, collected the details and messages, and sent the information to hackers.

Facebook became aware of the website hawking information from user accounts and started investigating about a month ago.

The attacks, first reported by the BBC Russian Service, were focused heavily on users in Central and Eastern Europe, with minimum focus on people in the U.S. However, the BBC did confirm that more than 81,000 accounts published as a sample contained private messages and that five Russian users affirmed that their messages were among them. Compromised data reportedly included chats about a recent Depeche Mode concert, complaints about a son-in-law, intimate conversations between lovers, and photos of a recent holiday as well. The social media giant added that it has taken further steps to prevent more accounts from being affected.

"We have contacted browser-makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores", Facebook executive Guy Rosen told the BBC.

Personal shopping assistants, bookmarking applications and even mini-puzzle games are all on offer from various browsers such as Chrome, Opera and Firefox as third-party extensions. This typically doesn't include keystrokes, but extensions can sweep in anything rendered on a page for a user to see, such as public and private messages.

Facebook, for one, claims its systems have not been breached, according to the report.

Facebook believes a rogue browser extension is to blame for the theft. The breach forced millions of Facebook's users across the globe to log out of their accounts as the company "reset the access tokens of the nearly 50 million accounts that were affected to protect their security".

Once started, it would connect to a variety of Facebook URLs and steal information from them.

Hackers Are Selling the Private Facebook Messages of 81,000 Accounts