Google Exposes Data of Half a Million Users

Written by Jennifer Clark
Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:08AM

The data of half a million users has been exposed. This has been a reoccurring headline for the past few years. And that begs the question: Is the data that we put on the internet getting any safer?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google found a bug in the coding of its Google Plus platform back in March and immediately fixed it. But the company still did something wrong: It never revealed the bug's existence or the consequences of it to the public.

But Google made an announcement this past Monday, when it heard that the Wall Street Journal planned to print a story, about the bug and how around 500,000 users had their data exposed.

Google created Google Plus in 2011 to compete with Facebook's social networking platform. Unfortunately, Google Plus didn't catch on with some users. In a blog post from Google, it said 90% of users' sessions are less than five seconds long. But it wouldn't say how many people still visit its Google Plus platform.

Even if not many users were using Google's Google Plus platform or rarely frequented the site, there was still a vulnerability that was detected and no user was informed of the issue...

Laws to Help Protect Your Security

We fill out those forms that pop up on our computer screen and phone screens. But we rarely think about where that information is going, who is storing our data, and if that data is secured safely.

Ben Smith, a Google vice president for engineering, wrote in a blog post:

[Google looked at the] type of data involved, whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response. None of these thresholds were met in this instance.

We've seen Facebook and Twitter be scrutinized for how they let the public know about data breaches that may have compromised user data. And now, Google is taking some of the heat because it took the company seven months to reveal to the public that there was a bug in its system.

If it hadn't been for the threat of the Wall Street Journal article, who knows how long the public would have had to wait to hear about the bug from Google? We might not have heard anything at all...

We put a lot of trust into websites. We hope that nothing will happen to our names, addresses, social security numbers, and credit card information once we input them into those "safe and secure" forms.

There are a lot of questions being raised about big tech firms and the type of privacy practices they conduct. This year, California and Europe have started introducing new rules to help govern when a company must disclose a security episode.

Europe adopted new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws in May. These laws require companies to notify regulators of a potential data breach of personal information within 72 hours.

California is on board when it comes to new laws about data. It recently passed a privacy law that will allow consumers afflicted by a data breach to sue for up to $750 for each violation. It will also give the state's attorney general the right to go after companies for intentional violations of privacy. This law will go into effect in 2020.

These types of data vulnerabilities are becoming more frequent. Or at least, they're finally becoming public. Either way, a lot has to change with cybersecurity. Putting too much trust in tech giants could cost you a lot.

Until next time,

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today

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