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Google + security bug disclosed, service to be shut down

Google + security bug disclosed, service to be shut down

At least two USA states are investigating a breach at Alphabet Inc.'s Google that may have exposed private profile data of at least 500,000 users to hundreds of external developers.

The bug was a part of a flaw in an application programming interface (API) Google created to help app developers access profile and contact information for users who sign up for the service, including information shared with Google+. The decision stems from Project Strobe, an internal effort started earlier this year with the goal of reviewing third-party developer access to Android and Google Account data.

The announcement came in a Monday blog post that marked Google's first public description of the privacy bug. The company noted that information like Google+ posts, messages and G Suite content weren't included in the exposure. If you use the service for work, though, Google+ is not going anywhere.

The Google Plus security blunder could still give the US Congress a reason to enforce tighter laws surrounding data collection.

When the company's technical staff discovered the bug in March, they decided against disclosing the issue to users because they hadn't found anyone that had been affected, the company said in a blog post.

"None of these thresholds were met here", they said.

For Google, a data privacy reckoning may finally come as a result of a service that it admits nearly no one uses much anymore. Google plans to change the way apps ask for permissions, giving Android users more control over which permissions they want to give.




Around 500,000 users were affected by this, potentially.

This privacy breach, in addition to dwindling user numbers and engagement, has prompted the search giant to shutter the consumer side of Google+.

The firm has also promised to institute new security rules, including limits around the types of use cases that are permitted to access consumer Gmail data. However, it's possible that data were abused and Google just doesn't know about it yet.

Google goes "beyond legal requirements" and applies "several criteria focused on our users" when deciding whether to provide notice, a spokesperson said in a statement.

"The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google user sessions are less than five seconds", the company said.

Google did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

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