Facebook acknowledges it stored millions of passwords in plain text for years

Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions of User Passwords in Plain Text for Years

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

It's time to change your Facebook password.

Facebook recommends users change their passwords and use two-factor authentication or a security key. But thousands of employees could have searched them.

The technique allows Facebook's system to recognize valid passwords when users log in, without storing the information in plain text that employees or hackers could read. Just as recently as yesterday the social media giant has suffered yet another setback.

The news of the internal password exposure follow recent news reports that have shaken public faith in Facebook.

Facebook is insisting it's ready for more regulation that would stop killers from being to able to livestream their attacks.

So far, Krebs said on his blog Thursday, between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users likely had their account passwords logged in unencrypted text files. Facebook Lite - a simplified version of Facebook created to work on slower internet connections - is popular among people in parts of the world with less connectivity. It is used primarily in developing countries.

Facebook's password woes come amid a tough month for the social network.

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We don't know if this is going to make you feel better, but an internal investigation by Facebook reveals that there is no sign that employees took advantage of this oversight.

Facebook said it discovered the problem in January. However the logging apparently went back, in some cases, to as early as 2012. But some applications within the Facebook and Instagram architecture clearly didn't do that.

The security review has also thrown up problems with the way access tokens were managed and these were fixed as well, Canahuati said.

This happened in a variety of circumstances, for example, when an app crashed and the resulting crash log included a captured password.

"There is nothing more important to us than protecting people's information", said Pedro Canahuati, vice president of engineering, security and privacy for Facebook - while presumably hiding a smirk.

Thankfully, Facebook says there is no evidence this security breach was exploited by any nefarious individuals. The latest security slip-up relates to passwords: it turns out that for up to six years, millions of user passwords were stored in plain text.

Facebook confirmed, Thursday, March 21, that hundreds of millions of passwords were stored in plaintext - meaning they were stored in their servers as-is, as if you had merely written it down on a notebook, potentially leaving it open to exposure to prying eyes. Twitter and GitHub have made similar mistakes. Storing passwords in plaintext is universally frowned upon (unless you're a hacker, I guess).

For its part, Facebook has penned a new blog post, entitled "Keeping Passwords Secure", that addresses the matter directly.

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