'Routing Error' Grants Users Random Facebook Accounts

Dennis Faas's picture

Imagine logging onto your Facebook page from a mobile phone and discovering that you have been given full access to someone else's account. That is exactly what happened to a woman from Georgia and her two daughters.

For a short period of time, the Internet seemed to lose track of which people controlled which accounts. While details on the event remain sketchy, experts say the issue was the result of a routing problem.

User Name and Password Bypassed

Cadence Sawyer suspected something was wrong after she had typed Facebook.com into her Nokia smartphone. Her account seemed to open without the usual prompt asking for her user name and password. Other details seemed out of place as well, including fewer friend requests. When she found the picture of the rightful owner of the account, Sawyer was admittedly dumbfounded. (Source: yahoo.com)

After her discovery, Sawyer first called her sister Mari and their mother Fran to see whether they had experienced similar problems on their phones. They had.

The glitch proved to be more than a one-time occurrence. Mari stumbled onto the page of another woman while Fran was directed into the account of a young woman from Indiana. They later sent email to themselves via their foreign accounts; oddly enough, the messages came back as being sent by the rightful owner.

Security Experts Baffled

A number of security experts weighed in on the matter, claiming to have never witnessed a case where a person was involuntarily given access to a web page belonging to someone else.

The biggest fear for most officials is that there could be dozens of other, unreported cases that are missed. Another concern is that even though such flaws are known to originate from mobile phones, something similar could happen via a PC.

According to Nathan Hamiel, founder of the Hexagon Security Group, "The fact that it did happen is proof that it could potentially happen again and with something a lot more important than Facebook." (Source: katu.com)

Companies like Nokia wish to reiterate that the problem was not the result of faulty phones; they claim it was a flaw in the infrastructure connecting the phones to the Internet.

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