Google Shutters Google+ Following Privacy Vulnerability

by Linda Olson October 9, 2018, 2:33
Google Shutters Google+ Following Privacy Vulnerability

The tech giant said it had discovered and patched the leak in March, and had no evidence of misuse of user data or that any developer was aware or had exploited the vulnerability. A bug was found in addition to that all that allowed access to profile files that Google+ users shared with contacts that were not public.

The memo viewed by the Journal said that disclosing the incident publicly would possibly trigger "immediate regulatory interest" and do damage to the company's reputation. The company is henceforth shutting down Google+ to consumers.

In a statement, Google officials said there were other reasons for withholding public disclosure of the data exposure. The exposed data includes occupations, genders, ages, and email addresses of many users.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai knew of the glitch and the decision not to publicly disclose it, the WSJ reported.

Google did not specify how long the software flaw existed, or why it waited to announce it.

Google today revealed it'd be shutting down the consumer version of Google+ in response to a previously undisclosed security flaw - and also because no one's really using it.

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.

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Google+ has been largely forgotten for a few years now, not just by its users, but also by the team that had been working on the platform. However, Google contends that there's no evidence that profile data was misused.

Besides applying to a new app review process, Google also plans to subject the apps to security assessments on how developers store Gmail user data collected through the app. Google and Apple are both now giving users more control over their data and the ability to limit what third parties can access. Up to 496,951 users could have been affected, and up to 438 apps could have accessed the data.

Monday in its blog post justifying the decision to close the consumer version of Google+, the company said, "The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

The company will wind down Google+ over 10 months, targeting an August 2019 shutdown.

"In the interim, since we can not trust that we know much or even most of what ought to concern the public, the FTC should install public-minded privacy monitors into the firms as an element of accountability". Google says that "only apps directly enhancing email functionality-such as email clients, email backup services and productivity services", will be given authorization.

Finally, app access to Call Logs and SMS on Android are going to be limited moving forward.

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