Half a year after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Google now also admits a data breach. Google knew about the data breach affecting its social network platform, Google+ since March 2018, but has not informed the nearly 500,000 affected users.
A software glitch on the social network platform Google+, has granted app developers unauthorized access to some private user data. As a reaction, the consumer platform launched in 2011 as a rival to Facebook is closing down.
The security glitch meant that app developers were able to access the name, email, employment information, gender and age of users, Google admitted on Monday. Other data was not affected. The issue was discovered in March 2018 and rectified immediately.
The glitch had existed since 2015, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing internal documents. Although Google has no clear evidence of data misuse, there’s also insufficient information to completely ignore it, quotes the sheet from the documents. In March, the company decided not to inform the public immediately about the discovery. One reason was the fear of increased regulatory attention which is almost certain now. According to an internal memo, Google did not want to get into the limelight whilst the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal was still hot news.
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
Google wants to continue operating Google+ for businesses, and claimed that it will give professional customers stricter data controls. Google also announced that it will be working on introducing new features for enterprises.
Almost half a million users affected during the security glitch period
Google itself gave no indication of how long the gap was. Potentially, profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts may be affected. However, the company could not give more specific information because usage logs are only stored for two weeks. Up to 438 apps may have been able to access user data during the breach period, Google stated.
The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+
Google+ currently has low user engagement – 90 percent of the interactions lasted less than five seconds, said the California firm. This along with the data breach issue led Google to make an official announcement on its blog to terminate the social network platform by the end of August 2019.