Over 20,000 Facebook employees had access to 600 million user passwords

Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions of User Passwords in Plain Text for Years

Facebook found millions of passwords stored in plain-text in internal investigation

Security researcher Brian Krebs reported earlier today that Facebook had been improperly storing user passwords for years, making them widely accessible to thousands of company employees.

Renfro said the issue first came to light in January 2019 when security engineers reviewing some new code noticed passwords were being inadvertently logged in plain text.

Facebook VP of Engineering, Security and Privacy Pedro Canahuati subsequently published a blog post in which he acknowledged that the company stored some user passwords in a readable format within the company's internal data storage systems.

Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions of User Passwords in Plain Text for Years

Facebook says that it has fixed the issue and is now in the process of informing affected Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram users to change their passwords as a safety measure.

Passwords - especially high-value passwords like Facebook's - are normally "hashed", or cryptographically scrambled to prevent hackers from using them even if they are able to break into a company's servers. It said there is no need for anyone to change their passwords.

Staff made the discovery in January, during a routine security check, he said.

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Thankfully, Facebook says there is no evidence this security breach was exploited by any nefarious individuals.

"There is no valid reason why anyone in an organization, especially the size of Facebook, needs to have access to users' passwords in plain text".

Facebook Lite is designed for users with older phones or low-speed internet connections and is used primarily in developing countries. Facebook Lite - a simplified version of Facebook created to work on slower internet connections - is popular among people in parts of the world with less connectivity. Facebook did not say for how long they had been storing passwords in this way. In September, an attack on Facebook exposed the private profile information for almost 50 million of the social network's users.

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The report also noted that because of the flaw, almost 20,000 Facebook employees had access to the plaintext passwords of between 200 million and 600 million users, in a searchable form.

These include hashing and salting the credentials, and using the scrypt password-based key derivation function. But these authentication methods may not be easily available to or effective for many of those affected by this or other password exposures. He has said that no Facebook passwords resets would be required.

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