Facebook Sues 2 Ukrainian Men Over Alleged Data-Stealing Browser Add-Ons

Facebook Sues 2 Ukrainian Men Over Alleged Data-Stealing Browser Add-Ons

According to Facebook, mainly Russian users have fallen victim to the hackers. Based on context, however, they might also be tied to the sale of 81,000 users' private messages previous year.

The extensions would then take data from social networking sites including Facebook. This amount according to the civil complaint was what Facebook spent in removing the malicious plugins from its website a year ago. Facebook didn't immediately reply to questions about whether Sluchevsky and Gorbachov were linked with the private message leak. After a user logged in with their Facebook account, the defendants were able to direct their targets to install malicious browser extensions, which were able to scrape profile data, including publicly visible information and a person's friends list.

From the implications of the lawsuit, Facebook may have allowed these hackers into their network by approving them as developers. According to the lawsuit, the hackers registered accounts between 2016 and 2018 under pseudonyms like "Elena Stelmah" and "Amanda Pitt".

Andrew Dwyer, a cyber security expert at the University of Oxford, said the court document suggested users who installed the browser extensions had "effectively opened up entry into their Facebook accounts".

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The lawsuit accuses the pair of fraud and breach of contract and seeks monetary damages and a restraining order against the alleged hackers and their associates. "Facebook reasonably relied on Defendants' misrepresentations to permit Defendants to access to and use of Facebook's platform", it says.

The hackers, Gleb Sluchevsky and Andrey Gorbachov, required users to download browser extensions to operate the quiz apps, which scraped data from Facebook pages and posted ads once they were loaded onto the browser. According to Daily Beast reports last Friday, the popular social media giant accused the hackers of violating the federal and California anti-hacking laws with their shameless act. The defendant may not face serious consequences, but it will give Facebook the leverage to defend itself.

"Facebook was vulnerable to very similar types of attacks, which simply means that Facebook is really good for targeting particular users with advertising, so it makes the platform so valuable", Dan Patterson, senior producer at CNET, told CBSN.

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