Alphabet Shuts Down Google+ Over Security Breach

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Alphabet’s owned Google is shutting down its social platform Google+ after it discovered a bug “in the API for Google+ had been allowing third-party app developers to access the data not just of users who had granted permission, but of their friends.” which in turn exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users.

The massive data beach as reported by The Wall Street Journal has been there for years, and Google’s decision to take down the platform is for fear of having regulatory commissions look into it after Facebook was found wanting.

On why they kept mum, according to a memo acquired by the Journal, Google intentionally didn’t want any scandal. “Disclosure will likely result in us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal, It almost guarantees Sundar will testify before Congress and would invite regulatory interest” Google policy and legal officials wrote

The company said in a blog post that “We made Google+ with privacy in mind and therefore keep this API’s log data for only two weeks. That means we cannot confirm which users were impacted by this bug.

However, we ran a detailed analysis over the two weeks prior to patching the bug, and from that analysis, the Profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected. Our analysis showed that up to 438 applications may have used this API. We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.

Google did mention that no sensitive data was stolen as the data made available by the API is limited.

This data is limited to static, optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age.” It added

It does not include any other data you may have posted or connected to Google+ or any other service, like Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers or G Suite content.”

Another reason why Google is shutting down the consumer version of the platform is largely because of low user interaction as they rarely use the platform. Over the next ten months, consumers will no longer have access to their platform but Google will keep it at Enterprise level where it has more popularity.

The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.” the blog post said.

To give people a full opportunity to transition, we will implement this wind-down over a 10-month period, slated for completion by the end of next August. Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data.

At the same time, we have many enterprise customers who are finding great value in using Google+ within their companies.

Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network. Enterprise customers can set common access rules, and use central controls, for their entire organization.

We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses. We will share more information in the coming days.

Security measures are now being put in place as there have been reforms to its privacy policies designed to give users more control over what the wish to share.

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