Second security hole accelerates Google+'s demise

December 11, 2018 | 10:00

Tags: #closure #david-thacker #flaw #insecurity #security #social-networking

Companies: #alphabet #google

Google has announced it is accelerating its planned closure of the Google+ social networking platform, following the discovery of a second security flaw which has potentially exposed the personally identifiable information (PII) of around 52.5 million users.

The latest in a string of abortive attempts to break into the social networking market - after Orkut, Dodgeball, Jaiku, Lively, and Buzz - Google+ never really set the world on fire. Slow adoption was one thing, but when Google discovered a serious security flaw the company decided enough was enough and announced plans to close the platform to all but a handful of corporate users.

October's flaw, sadly, turns out to be one of two affecting Google+: Google has now confirmed a second flaw, responsible for the potential disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) including names, email addresses, occupation, and age, of around 52.5 million users, and as a result is accelerating the platform's closure.

'We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API,' explains G Suite vice president David Thacker in the company's announcement. 'We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.

'With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days. In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019. While we recognise there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.'

The company still plans to retain the enterprise variant of Google+, which was also affected by the bug.

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