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Privacy Under Fire: The Orbitz Hack and Facebook Loopholes


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Last week was a particularly rough time for privacy advocates, with two troubling announcements from the tech world. First, it’s the social media blunder everyone is talking about — Facebook knew of a massive data breach for years and chose to keep it a secret. Meanwhile, travel site Orbitz also admitted to a data breach which exposed the personal data of nearly one million of their users.

Let’s take a closer look at the disaster that was last week.

The Facebook scandal everyone’s talking about

Facebook is often accused of destroying everything we hold dear about Western civilization. The strange part is, this time the claims didn't seem so off the mark.

If you’re not up to date on the most recent scandal, which involves Cambridge Analytica, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and a Facebook API loophole that left the Facebook data of more than 50 million Americans exposed, this article may be a great starting place. It even comes with a series of helpful diagrams.

While this is a fairly complex situation, we’ll do our best to break it down. Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, discovered in 2015 they could harvest the personal data of millions of Americans through incredibly simple means — administering a quiz on Facebook. By exploiting a loophole in Facebook’s API, they were also able to steal the personal data of every quiz taker and all the quiz takers’ friends.

What makes the matter much worse is that Facebook knew of the loophole back in 2015 but chose not to inform users whose personal data Cambridge Analytica hijacked.

Facebook under fire

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are under so much scrutiny that the House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have asked Zuckerberg to appear before Congress. Of course, testifying might be the least of his concerns — his entire fortune may be at stake.

The scandal cost Facebook nearly $75 billion of the company’s market cap in just one week, and shares of the company plummeted by 13.9 percent. Much of this backslash appears to be driven by the #deleteFacebook movement that, as its name suggests, encourages users to delete their accounts.

Adding fuel to the fire, the movement continues to unearth more unsavory dirt on the social media giant. Users in the UK who deleted their accounts tell The Guardian Facebook secretly logged every phone call and text message they sent or received.

The Orbitz hack

Facebook wasn’t the only company that found itself in hot water last week. That distinction also belongs to Orbitz, one of the most popular travel sites on the planet. According to the online agency, 880,000 users had their personal data stolen. This includes addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and more.

Like Facebook, Orbitz also waited to report their findings. But, unlike Facebook, it didn’t take them years to do the right thing. According to Orbitz, the breach occurred sometime between October 2017 and December 2017, however they didn’t discover it until March 1 of this year. By March 20, the company announced their findings to the public.

Protecting your privacy

In today’s digital era, it’s harder than ever to protect your privacy, but InfoArmor is here to help.

If you’re looking for information on how you can more safely browse Facebook, please read our blog “Drop the Mic: Protect Your Privacy on Facebook.

Think you may have been a victim of the Orbitz breach? You can call Orbitz and request a year of free credit monitoring by dialing 855.828.3959. While this won’t solve your problem, it will allow you to see if new accounts are opened in your name. For more steps you can take to protect your identity, review our article we wrote about the Uber hack; it’s loaded with actionable steps you can take today.

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