A database containing over 170 million Facebook profiles was uploaded to a Bit Torrent. The uploaded files contained the public information of millions of users including emails, phone numbers, profile photos, addresses, and dates of birth.
Facebook made a quick response, “People who use Facebook own their information and have the right to share only what they want, with whom they want, and when they want, any information gathered was already public.” Even if this information was already available, never has one data file contained this much user information.
Ron Bowes, an internet security consultant from Skull Security, created a web crawler program to harvest personal information from Facebook. If a Facebook user did not set their profiles to private, then their personal information is listed in Facebook’s open directory. The open directory lists emails, phone numbers, profile photos, addresses, and dates of birth.
He told the BBC, “It is designed to test password policies of organizations by using brute force attacks; in other words, guessing every username and password combination.”
Ron Bowes collected the data and later uploaded the information as a torrent file, called Pirate Bay. The entire torrent file was then available for anyone to download.
To protect the user profiles for privacy at Facebook ensure the privacy setting for “search for me on Facebook” is not set to “everyone”. Deselect the “enable public search” under the “edit settings” and “public search” settings.
Even if the setting are set to private, the Facebook profile can still become accessed by friend profiles that are not set to private.