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Google+ Data Breaches

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A data breach is the result of malicious and probably intrusive action. Harvesting of personal data by the Google was the biggest scandal of the year 2018. The Google + data breach was an immense news coverage scandal in late 2018. In this major scandal, A software leakage was discovered by Google engineers within the Google+ API used in the social media network in which over five million user’s data was compromised. This led to the immense news coverage on consumer privacy levels within Google+ and the shutting down of the Google+ consumer social network on 2 April 2019. The reaping of personal data was first noticed by Google+ producers in March 2018 during a review of its operations. They were following the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Though the bug was immediately fixed however led to approximately 500,000 Google+ private users data being open to the public. Google itself did not disclose this information to the social network’s consumer database. On 8 October 2018, the article Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public was published by The Wall Street Journal. Following this, Google made a simultaneous blog post announcing the shutting down of Google+ as there were low consumer use and technological challenges. So this data scam was disclosed in August 2019. But these data breaches within Google+  did not stop here.  In continuation, another data breach was found within a Google+ API software update within November  2018. The company reacted quite quickly and this bug was fixed within a week without any evidence that any third-party developer compromised the system. However, there was some shaking in the system and approximately 52.5 million non-public profile fields were exposed to alternative apps that requested access to individuals Google+ ID and created access to other profiles that had shared information with each other. Due to these regular data breaches, consumers complained to greater consumer protection in online media. In consequence, Google moved the Google+ social media shut down the date to 2 April 2019, with legacy Google+ API’s being shut down on 7 March 2019.

Highlights of Google+
Google+ was initially launched as an invite-only social network in June 2011 and later become a public database in the same year. Google+ was governed by Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of engineering. Google+ acted as a social media database creating status’s on individual feeds and posting photos yet included the key features including Circles, Hangouts, and Sparks. So as a whole it matched to Facebook with few advanced features. The significance of circles was to allow consumers to personalize their social groups by dividing friends into different sorted categories. Circle allowance was necessary to see particular content and be restricted from others. Therefore, users can control and maintain access to the information in their individual spaces. Hangouts offered video chatting and instant messaging between consumers. Sparks was another key feature of Google+,  where Google tracked users’ past searches to find news and content related to a user’s interests. Past searches were regulated by using keywords. Along with being a social network, Google+ was produced to be the social layer of Google and its many apps and hence was used within other Google Profiles and logins such as YouTube, Gmail, and others. Google+ had over 2 billion user accounts within its interface as it gave access to many google apps including Google Drive and Gmail. However, users were less active hanging on less than 400 million consumers being actively using the social media aspect, with 90% of these users using the social network for five seconds. Hence, Google+ did not have a large amount of consumer interaction and had a small sphere within the social media network. Along with the data breaches news, Google+ saw limited consumer interaction with apps and low social media usage and so, the social network was shut down on 2 April 2019. The data breach at Target, resulting in the loss of personal and credit card information of up to 110million individuals, was one of the series of startling thefts that took place during the normal processing and storage of data. Cloud computing introduces new avenues of attack, said the CSA report authors. The absolute security of hypervisor operation and virtual machines is still to be proved. Indeed, critics question whether such absolute security can exist. The report’s writers said there’s lab evidence though none known in the wild that breaches via hypervisors and virtual machines may occur eventually.

What was the final closure?
‌Finally, Google Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Over Google+ Data Breaches. Google has agreed to pay $7.5 million to resolve a class-action lawsuit over data breaches that exposed private information of former Google+ users to outside developers. Importantly, the personal information of all class members was never approached or accessed by malicious third parties or other hackers, but instead was potentially exposed to third-party software developers known to Google. In that year two months later, it came to light that a second data breach also exposed information about Google+ users to outside developers without their knowledge. Google explained that there were no evidence of any user’s personal information being misused. A detailed analysis identified that 500,000 Google+ accounts were included in this data breach which was capable of allowing 438 external apps without authorization to private users names, age, gender, addresses, emails, and occupations. Between 2015 and 2018, this information was able to be accessed by third-party apps.

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