Google Plus to shut down after massive data breach

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A report in the Wall Street Journal said the company knew about the matter in March but did not disclose it, because it did not want to expose itself to scrutiny by the regulator.

Google+ was launched in 2011, quickly becoming a failed attempt to compete with Facebook. However, Google claims that this vulnerability went unnoticed and apparently no third-party was able to exploit the vulnerability to access user date. The company has now made a decision to shut down the seven-year-old service that was initially launched as a direct take on Facebook.

Google has declined to comment on why it held off reporting the breach. "While our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption". The measures are part of what Google is calling Project Strobe, which is "a root-and-branch review of third-party developer access to Google account and Android device data and of our philosophy around apps' data access".

"Only apps directly enhancing email functionality - such as email clients, email backup services and productivity services (e.g., CRM and mail merge services) - will be authorised to access this data", Smith added.

The Google Plus security blunder could still give the US Congress a reason to enforce tighter laws surrounding data collection.

Going forward, Google could face legal action for its failure to report the security breach to the public.

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Google said in the blog post that it "discovered and immediately patched" a bug in March 2018 that potentially allowed app developers to access profile data from users that had not been marked as public.

Earlier, the company had been reluctant to share data on how often Google+ was used, but now, facing the fall out of exposed data, the firm appears keen to play down its importance.

The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers' expectations.

Google says that 90 per cent of Google+ user sessions lasted for less than five seconds.

Google will gradually shut down the consumer version of its, after the search giant disclosed on Monday it had discovered a security lapse that may have exposed the personal information of up to 500,000 users.