Facebook tentatively concludes spammers were behind recent data breach: WSJ

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) has tentatively concluded that spammers looking to make money, and not a nation-state, were behind the largest-ever data theft at the social media company, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The entrance sign to Facebook headquarters is seen in Menlo Park, California, on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

The people behind the attack were a group of Facebook and Instagram spammers that present themselves as a digital marketing company, and whose activities were previously known to Facebook’s security team, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the company’s internal investigation. on.wsj.com/2OvMarh

Last week, Facebook said that cyber attackers had stolen data from 29 million Facebook accounts using an automated program that moved from one friend to the next, adding that the data theft had hit fewer than the 50 million profiles it initially reported.

Facebook said in an email to Reuters that it was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on this matter.

The breach has left users more vulnerable to targeted phishing attacks and could deepen unease about posting to a service whose privacy, moderation and security practices have been called into question by a number of scandals, cyber security experts and financial analysts have said.

Facebook first disclosed the breach in late September and said it had fixed the issue soon after discovering it on Sept. 25.

Facebook said it was conducting an internal investigation into the incident and last week cut the number of affected users from its original estimate after investigators reviewed activity on accounts that may have been affected.

It had also notified the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Congressional aides and the Data Protection Commission in Ireland, where the company has European headquarters.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Jim Finkle; Editing by Peter Cooney

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Marc Benioff Wants to Tax Billionaires, Including Himself

Of all the buzzwords on which Silicon Valley thrives—growth, engagement, disruption, profit—none is more central to the way tech works than scale. Whatever you’re building, it’s not worth much if you can’t make it work for the masses—because that’s where the world-changing happens.

Which is why Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff thinks philanthropy is the wrong way to attack the social problems that have accompanied the tech explosion of the past decade, chief among them a dire homelessness crisis in San Francisco.

“Philanthropy can only scale so far,” Benioff said on stage at the WIRED25 summit. A problem this stubborn and devastating demands a larger, more holistic solution. That’s why Benioff last week pledged $2 million (half of it from Salesforce, half from himself) to support Proposition C, a San Francisco ballot initiative that would impose a new tax on companies generating more than $50 million in gross receipts in San Francisco. The city’s Office of Economic Analysis estimates the tax would raise between $250 million and $300 million per year, enough to double what the city spends on the homeless problem now.

Prop C faces serious opposition, including from newly elected Mayor London Breed, who argues the plan lacks accountability measures and could inadvertently make homelessness worse. When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced his opposition last week, Benioff fired back on Twitter:

San Francisco has always been a boom town, and boom towns by their nature leave people behind. But the gravity of San Francisco’s situation—where gleaming towers like the 1,000-foot Salesforce headquarters Benioff erected in the city’s South of Market neighborhood loom over men, women, and children living in its streets—seems worse now than ever. For Benioff, addressing it is a moral obligation—“what’s happening is just not right”—as well as an economic one. “Homelessness becomes a material issue to our business,” he said.

Benioff is a fourth-generation San Franciscan, worth $6.1 billion, according to Forbes, and the head of the city’s largest employer. He has donated millions to hospitals, schools, and homelessness issues, and is hardly the only philanthropist to come out of the tech industry. But he sees Prop C as a way to ensure everyone of means—especially San Francisco’s 70 billionaires—is helping.

“We have these incredible companies, incredible entrepreneurs. Yours truly, others of course,” Benioff said. “But we cannot separate ourselves from others. We have to get back to the feeling that we’re one, and that we are responsible for the city that we are living in and growing our businesses in.”

Fixing the city’s seemingly intractable problem—more than 7,000 people live on the streets, one in 30 public-school students is homeless—exceeds the limits of generosity, Benioff said.

“To really get to ultimate scale on a problem as big as this, you’ve got to go and do something like Prop C.”

Scale, then, remains king. And as ever, the challenge is finding the way there.

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