Facebook’s security breach allowed hackers to infiltrate the accounts of at least 50 million users, and possibly tens of millions more.
The hack gave attackers access to not just your Facebook account but also possibly the many accounts you used Facebook to log in with — services like Instagram, Spotify, Airbnb, Tinder, Pinterest, Expedia, The New York Times and more than 100,000 other places online.
I say “possibly” because neither Facebook nor third-party sites seem to know the precise extent of the damage.
In a statement on Tuesday, Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of product management, said the company had “no evidence” that attackers breached other sites through the hack, but that the company was building more sophisticated ways for sites to do their own deeper investigation.
But the mere possibility is highly troubling — and if the hack allowed access to any other sites, Facebook should be disqualified from acting as your sign-on service.
Facebook offered to carry keys for every lock online. The arrangement was convenient — the super was always right there, at the push of a button.
It was also more secure than creating and remembering dozens of passwords for different sites. Facebook had a financial and reputational incentive to hire the best security people to protect your keys; tons of small sites online don’t — and if they got hacked and if you reused your passwords elsewhere, you were hosed.
But the extensive hack vaporizes those arguments. If the entity with which you trusted your keys loses your keys, you take your keys elsewhere. And there are many more-secure and just-as-convenient ways to sign on to things online.
The best way is to use a dedicated password manager — a service, like LastPass or 1Password, that creates and remembers strong passwords for different sites. Operating systems and browsers are also getting better at managing passwords; newer iPhones, for instance, let you unlock sites with facial recognition, which is just as convenient as pressing Facebook’s button.
If for some reason you don’t want to use a password manager, you can use another tech giant’s sign-on service. When presented with different ways to sign on to sites, you can choose Google or Microsoft instead of Facebook.
Yes, it’s possible those companies could be hacked one day, too. After all, Yahoo was hacked, as was LinkedIn, as was Equifax. But at this moment, a sign-on service by Google or Microsoft has one big advantage over Facebook’s: Those companies did not lose control of 50 million people’s accounts, and Facebook did.