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Facebook Employees Had Access to Millions of User Passwords Stored in Plain Text

In a new blog post entitled "Keeping Passwords Secure" Facebook VP Engineering, Security and Privacy Pedro Canahuati explains how the social media giant accidentally stored Facebook user's passwords on internal data storage systems in plain text. Pedro explains how "these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them. We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users." To keep your account safe, Facebook suggests changing your Facebook and Instagram passwords, pick strong passwords, use a password manager, and enable a security key or two-factor authentication. In recent months, Facebook has vowed to clean up its act as it has been accused of sharing user data, one click account takeover bugs, paying minors to harvest their data without parental consent, had its enterprise certificate revoked by Apple, access token hack, Cambridge Analytica, and many more fines and hacks. I would suggest picking a password so long and complex that Facebook employees would get tired from writing it down.

As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems. This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 1:17 PM (CDT)

Facebook Unveils the Oculus Rift S

At GDC, Facebook unveiled their next PC virtual reality headset. Among other things, the Oculus Rift S features a "higher pixel density" and "improved optics," but doesn't divulge many technical details. According to UploadVR, the new headset now uses a single 2560x1440 LCD instead of dual PenTile 2160x1200 OLED displays. And instead of requiring external sensors, the new Rift uses built-in cameras for tracking. It also features "enhanced" comfort, integrated audio, a better passthrough feature to keep you from bumping into walls, as well as compatibility with the same game library as the previous Rift, along with the same hardware requirements. Facebook says that the Rift S is launching in Spring 2019 for $399 USD.

Oculus Rift S is our most advanced PC-powered headset. Take on VR's best games with improved resolution and comfortable new design. No external sensors. No complicated set up. Just hands-on action and interaction. Step into the game and the future of PC VR. Coming Spring 2019.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 10:47 AM (CDT)

A "Server Misconfiguration" Was Behind the Facebook Outage

Facebook and Instagram were down for about 14 hours earlier this week, and earlier reports suggested that the underlying cause was a BGP routing issue. As time went on without an official explanation, many started to suspect that the outage was related to an attack on the platform. But yesterday, Facebook tweeted that the trouble was a "result of a server configuration change." There's still no mention of the incident in Facebook's official newsroom, and some news outlets are starting to criticize the timeliness of Facebook's response and explanation. One security analyst told the BBC that "Facebook's motto always used to be 'move fast and break things'. That's fine when you're an innovative start-up, but when billions of people are using your site every month it's not a good way to run the business."

Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services. We've now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering. We're very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone's patience.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)

Facebook is Under Criminal Investigation for Data Sharing Practices

Facebook's news coverage hasn't been particularly positive over the past few months, but they had a particularly bad day yesterday. Following a widespread outage that lasted over 14 hours, and likely cost the company millions in advertising revenue, the New York Times released a report claiming that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Facebook over their data sharing practices. According to their sources, two major handset manufacturers have already been subpoenaed. At this point, Facebook's public image seems to be in "it couldn't possibly get any worse" territory, hence their stock price barely budged in response to the incident and the story, and is still significantly up since to the beginning of March.

"It's already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Dept of Justice. As we've said, we're cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We've provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we'll continue to do so."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 10:00 AM (CDT)

Facebook Outage Caused by BGP Routing Error

NETSCOUT has released a statement to BleepingComputer that the Facebook and Instagram outages were caused by a BGP routing error.

"'At approximately 12:52PM EST on March 13th, 2019, it appears that an accidental BGP routing leak from a European ISP to a major transit ISP, which was then propagated onwards to some peers and/or downstreams of the transit ISP in question, resulted in perceptible disruption of access to some well-known Internet properties for a short interval. While not malicious in nature, such events can prove disruptive on a widespread basis. It is very important that all network operators implement BGP peering best current practices (BCPs), including prefix-lists, max-prefixes, 'peer-locking' via AS-PATH filters, RPKI Origin Validation (RFC6811), and other techniques incorporated into the industry Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) detailed at .' -Roland Dobbins, NETSCOUT Principal Engineer"

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 5:30 PM (CDT)

Facebook and Instagram Are down

Facebook and Instagram are reportedly down. This probably means that your personal information will have to wait until both services are back up before it is harvested (sarcasm.) Facebook acknowledged the connection troubles on Twitter since it couldn't announce it on its own social media platform. Maybe this is part of Mark Zuckerberg's plan to shift Facebook to a "privacy-focused" platform?

We're aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 2:31 PM (CDT)

Facebook Acquires Interconnect IP Provider Sonics

Hot on the heels of Nvidia's Mellanox acquisition, EE Times reports that Facebook has acquired Sonics, a Silicon Valley-based IP provider that specializes in on-chip networking and power management. The report initially came from sources claiming "key Sonics executive members are now working for Facebook," but Facebook contacted EE Times shortly after the article went live and confirmed the acquisition. They said "we're rapidly developing new VR and AR products and deepening our technology expertise in silicon is an important step for our 10-year roadmap. We're excited to welcome the remarkable Sonics team and technology to AR/VR at Facebook." However, what's particularly interesting is what Facebook could do with the newly acquired company outside of standalone AR/VR headsets. The publication asked the social media giant if they intended to use Sonic's IP for datacenter chips, and Facebook said "It's too early to rule out anything. But our initial focus will be VR and AR." While that's certainly far from a confirmation, it's not a denial either, and the technology I see on an archived version of Sonic's website and their YouTube Channel seemingly lends itself to high performance datacenter chips. In other words, this could be evidence that Facebook is following in the footsteps of Amazon, and working on their own datacenter hardware to reduce their reliance on 3rd parties.

"It would indicate to me that Facebook is indeed working on its own multicore, and probably heterogeneous, processor," Krewell said. Of course, that's what all the cool cloud players are apparently doing these days, he added. Mike Demler, senior analyst at the Linley Group, however, is the only one who suggested, "Yes, Facebook designs ASICs for its data centers, but they also may develop chips for Oculus VR headsets." Surprising to Krewell, though, is that Facebook bought the company rather than just licensing the technology. Linley has another theory. "If the Facebook team decided to use Sonics IP, and Sonics was running out of money, Facebook could have stepped in to ensure the continuity of its design project." He said this would be similar to what happened in the case of Intel's NetSpeed acquisition deal last year.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 13, 2019 12:51 PM (CDT)

YouTube Adds Feature to Fact-Check Viral Conspiracy Videos and Fake News

Continuing its effort to combat misinformation, YouTube has announced that future searches involving sensitive topics will be accompanied by "information panels" with debunks from fact-checking partners to alert users of potentially incorrect content. The videos themselves will not be fact checked, however; they will still appear in the search results.

Videos containing misinformation can still appear in the search results, but YouTube will generate these disclaimers when a query involves sensitive topics, with the intent to inform viewers as the company deals with the spread of misinformation on the platform. The feature is currently available to a limited number of users in India, one of YouTube’s largest markets with nearly 250 million users, for search queries in English and Hindi. The company said it will eventually expand it to users across the world, but declined to say when.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 11:30 AM (CDT)

The Growth of Video Game Influencers on YouTube and Twitch

Fancensus has researched the growth of video game influencers on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. The amount of views that the top 10 influencer channels on YouTube receive are growing by 40% on average. The top 100 influencers saw growth of 2.5 billion views. To ignite this growth, influencers have narrowed the list of games presented to their audience. In 2016, influencers covered 383 games on average a year. In 2018, they only cover 28 games on average with half being AAA titles. This narrowing of the scope of these channels is because of the meteoric rise of games such as Fortnite and exclusive deals with major publishers. Influencers have learned to stick to the bread and butter games instead of creating variety content. "GhostNinja is one that has reaped massive view growth in 2018 when comparing to 2017 - however, when delving into his game preference, out of 497 videos in 2018, 493 were indeed on Fortnite." Twitch is a different beast as it is just starting to grow. Over a four week period, the average peak views for a channel in the top 100 on Twitch is only 27,000 people. But those Twitch channels are experiencing follower growth as an average of 36,000 people chose to follow those channels during that time. Right now Twitch isn't a threat to YouTube but that could change in the future as it has Amazon backing it. For example, Apex Legends focused on influencers at its launch and it has seen excellent coverage on YouTube and Twitch.

In general, influencers are posting the same number of videos over the last three years -- on average, just over one video a day -- but their staying power as a Top 10 influencer is being constantly challenged. Only half of the Top 100 influencers of 2018 are still holding their position when compared to 2017, and 20% are channels news to our monitoring system. In summary, these analytics suggest it's getting tougher to find beneficial influencers that drive views for your product with so many focusing on a small subset of games. I believe influencers have over the last five years facilitated growth for our industry. In addition, they may have also assisted in increasing the 'shelf life' of top physical and digital games. Even if many seem to live the life of luxury, we should and will ultimately embrace them for many years to come.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 07, 2019 4:00 PM (CST)

YouTuber Discovers Unreleased NES WCW Wrestling Game

YouTuber "Archon 1981" claims he just bought an unreleased, unannounced NES wrestling game from 1989. The cartridge was supposedly given to a former Nintendo employee simply because he was a wrestling fan, but "UWC" never saw the light of day again. Archon says he's going to release the ROM to the public, but in the meantime, he uploaded some footage of the game, which you can see below:
Thanks to cageymaru for the tip. Garrett Martin, who's apparently a big pro wrestling and retro gaming fan, went to the trouble of trying to identify all the wrestlers in the game:

A handful of them should be immediately recognizable to any wrestling fan. In the top row you can see the Road Warriors-the tag team of Animal and Hawk-as well as Sting, who was quickly becoming the promotion's top face the year this game was copyrighted. The bottom row is a little harder to figure out, as three of them are just a bunch of grimacing or grinning blond guys, but that's unmistakably Ric Flair second from right. Reese's footage helps identify some of the other wrestlers. The bottom left corner is none other than Beautiful Bobby Eaton, one-half of the Midnight Express, perhaps the greatest tag team of all time. The top right slot looks a lot like Jimmy Garvin, and that's because it is, as we see in the very first in-game footage from Reese's video. Garvin's wrestling Barry Windham in that footage, so we can scratch another one of those bottom row guys off.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 07, 2019 10:30 AM (CST)

Suicide Instructions Found Spliced into Kids' Cartoons on YouTube, YouTube Kids

YouTube continues its downward spiral: a contributing author for pedimom.com, a pediatrician-run parenting blog, recently discovered that tips for committing suicide were appearing in children’s cartoons on YouTube and the YouTube Kids app. In one video, a man who "resembles Internet personality Joji (formerly Filthy Frank)" shows up on screen and simulates cutting his wrist. "’Remember, kids, sideways for attention, longways for results,’ he says and then walks off screen. The video then quickly flips back to the cartoon."

"I am disturbed, I am saddened, I am disgusted," the physician wrote. "But I am also relieved that I was there to see this video with my own eyes, so that I could take the appropriate actions to protect my family." Those actions included deleting the YouTube Kids app and forever banning it from the house. That particular video was later taken down from YouTube Kids after the doctor reported it to YouTube. However, parents have since discovered that several other cartoons contain information about how to commit suicide, including the same spliced-in video clip.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 1:55 PM (CST)

YouTube TV and Hulu Are Outperforming the Competition

According to a report from Bloomberg, industry insiders say YouTube TV and Hulu are outperforming the competition in the live online TV services industry. Hulu's subscription total has nearly eclipsed the 2 million mark and YouTube TV has already broken the 1 million mark in subscribers. Both services are adding hundreds of thousands of customers each quarter. People are flocking to the services for "skinny bundles" which offer a narrow lineup of channels. Many consumers see this as a viable alternative to cable TV's hundreds of channels and high bills. Other similar services such as DirecTV Now are losing subscribers. "Sling is offering a 40 percent discount to attract new subscribers."

Hulu and YouTube represent a rare bit of good news for TV. They may be benefiting from a superior user experience compared with Sling or DirecTV Now, according to Alan Wolk, co-founder of the media consultancy TVRev. "They've done a better job of branding," Wolk said. "The interfaces are slick and modern looking, Hulu in particular.'" It also helps that neither YouTube nor Hulu is a cable or satellite company, which routinely rank among the least admired by U.S. consumers.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 01, 2019 4:45 PM (CST)