Facebook found millions of passwords stored in plain-text in internal investigation

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

This security blunder dates back to 2012 and after cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs published a report on Thursday, Facebook rushed to publish a blog post claiming that the flaw was discovered in January.

The acknowledgement from the social media giant came after a security researcher posted about the issue online.

Facebook stored the account passwords of "hundreds of millions" of Facebook, Facebook Lite and Instagram users in unencrypted plaintext on its internal servers, where thousands of Facebook employees could have viewed them, the company said today (March 21) in an official Facebook blog posting.

"This caught our attention because our login systems are created to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable", Canahuati continued.

Pedro Canahuati, Facebook's engineering, security and privacy vice president, confirmed the insecure practice Thursday and pledged to notify all those who were affected. In short, Facebook employees could have potentially looked up the passwords for individual users, though there's no indication that this actually happened. It said there is no need for anyone to change their passwords.

As well as being stored in plain text, passwords were searchable by thousands of Facebook employees. Still, if you are a Facebook or Instagram user, or even if you were a Facebook or Instagram user and still have an active account, it might be a good idea to change your password now.

As you may know, some people can be extremely annoying on Facebook.

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

According to the report, an internal review turned up archives containing plain text passwords from as far back as 2012.

The blunder was uncovered during a routine security review early this year, according to Mr Canahuati, and comes after a series of controversies centered on whether Facebook properly safeguards the privacy and data of its users.

For those reluctant to give Facebook their phone number, Ducklin advises using app-based authentication that generates a one-time code each time you log in.

And its investigation showed that most of the people affected were users of Facebook Lite, which tends to be used in nations where net connections are sparse and slow.

Security experts recommend using a tool like HaveIBeenPwned to check if a password has been compromised.

The fact that the company couldn't manage to do something as simple as encrypting passwords, however, raises questions about its ability to manage more complex encryption issues, such in messaging, flawlessly.

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