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February 19, 2013

Facebook Faces Hacking Attack

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Recently, Facebook's (News - Alert) security team posted the kind of blog posting that no one ever wants to see, especially not on a site that holds so much personal data about so many users. The site had been hacked, the damage was not immediately clear, and the whole thing struck a somewhat ironic blow to CEO Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert), who was previously seen so in favor of the hacker lifestyle that he discussed it in documents in Facebook's IPO filing.

The security team's blog posting said that, while hackers had infiltrated the systems running Facebook itself, the over one billion users of Facebook worldwide can rest easy as no data appeared to have been taken. That's cold comfort to most, of course, as there's quite a bit of data to be had on Facebook in the first place, but it appeared that cold comfort was sufficient comfort to investors. Facebook's stock price only dipped 10 cents on the news in extended Friday trading. 

Image via Shutterstock

The attack, at last report, was so sufficiently sophisticated that it managed to hit other companies in a similar fashion, though Facebook wouldn't identify just what companies were hit in the wide-spread attacks. Facebook's security, however, is working not only with its own engineering teams, but also the security divisions of the other companies in the hacking and law enforcement in general. However, Facebook did make note of a possible entry point for the hackers; Facebook staff recently visited a mobile developer's website, whose security had in turn been compromised. That visit led to malware being installed on the workers' laptops, which was a further disturbing event as the laptops were not only packing the latest in anti-virus technology, but also had other recently updated protection measures.

This no doubt comes as a major blow to a company whose address is 1 Hacker Way, and whose CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, actually included something of a hacker manifesto--dubbed "The Hacker Way"--which described hacking as "building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done." Indeed, that's what seemed to happen here, as while Facebook was broken into, nothing of value appeared to have been taken. There was, in days past, a distinction between "hacking" and "cracking," it’s more malevolent counterpart.

Still, with the share price not terribly concerned and minimal data actually seeming to be touched, it's a cause for at least a note of relief. But that hackers could break through in the first place from just a tainted website visit should give everyone at least a little cause for alarm, and a rush to ensure that the anti-virus systems on each computer are as up-to-date as possible.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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