SCI&TECH

Google plus to shut down amid security concerns

google-plus

Google's social network, Google +, is to be shutting down over a reported failure to reveal a security issue that affected hundreds of thousands of accounts.

Taking to a blog post, the company stated that Google+ had failed in achieving "broad consumer or developer adoption," adding that the network "has seen limited user interaction with apps."

The announcement came in the wake of a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report stating that in order to avert any scrutiny from regulatory authorities, Google did not reveal a security bug that affected hundreds of thousands of Google+ accounts, CNN reported.

The company addressed the issue in its blog post, saying that the bug was "discovered and immediately patched" in March 2018, adding that it occurred as a result of the Application Programming Interface's interaction with a subsequent Google+ code change.

The bug allowed app developers for Google to access profile information from users that were not marked as public. The blog post added that the data which could be accessed included the name, email address, occupation, gender and age of a user.

"It does not include any other data you may have posted or connected to Google+ or any other service, like Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers or G Suite content," Google's statement clarified.

While stating that the profiles of up to 500,000 users were "potentially affected," Google said that they "found no evidence that any Profile data was misused."

According to the WSJ report, the company's legal and policy team had alerted senior executives of "immediate regulatory interest" were they to go public with the bug.

"Every year, we send millions of notifications to users about privacy and security bugs and issues. Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice," Google's blog post added.

Google's bug issue surfaced the same month when Facebook's data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica had come to the fore. Although Google has recently faced flank over them enabling third-party apps to access data from Gmail users, Facebook has been at the focus of the tech industry's data scandals.

Cambridge Analytica, which was linked with US President Donald Trump's presidential campaign, had accessed data from as many as 87 million Facebook accounts. The social media giant had also revealed recently that a cyber attack led to the exposure of data from as many as 50 million accounts.