Google has announced that they will be permanently shutting down their social network service, Google+. This announcement comes after the revelation that a security breach led to the personal data of over 500,000 users being exposed. The data compromised came from individuals who used the site between 2015 and March 2018.
According to CNET, Google clarified that no evidence was found that suggested the data had been misused. Nonetheless, the company decided this incident contributed to the shelving and permanent shutdown of their social network. Google reportedly did not disclose the security breach, when the vulnerability was fixed in March, in order to avoid increased scrutiny from lawmakers.
The bug that exposed the data was found through Google’s own audit, called Project Strobe. This review examined third-party software developers, and determined their access to user data on Google accounts. The bug that was discovered allowed these third-party apps to access information on a person’s Google+ account that was marked as private. This included information such as email addresses, gender, age, images, and occupations. Reportedly, 438 applications on Google+ had access through this bug, but Google has stated that there has been no evidence that app developers were aware of this vulnerability.
Ben Smith, vice president of engineering at Google, commented on security and data risk. “Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.” He went on to explain that the investigation pointed out the difficulties the company had faced when attempting to develop and grow their own social network.
What do you think about this latest threat to personal data? Were you a user of Google+?
To read more about the search giant and their own battles against data breaches, click here.