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Alphabet's Google hit by data breach and did not report it over regulation fears

Company discovered bug in March, but did not report it until almost eight months later

A data lock.
Google said it discovered a bug in its systems but did not disclose it immediately.

Alphabet Inc's Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was hit by a data breach where a bug exposed the data of hundreds of thousands of users, a post by a senior Google official said on Monday.

Ben Smith, the vice-president of engineering at Google, said in a post that a review from the start of the year whose results were only announced on October 8 showed that they "discovered a bug in out of the Google+People APIs (application programming interfaces)" used to communicate with Google services and integrate with other services such as Google Maps.

"We discovered and immediately patched this bug in March 2018. We believe it occurred after launch as a result of the API’s interaction with a subsequent Google+ code change," Smith explained.

READ: UK's High Court blocks suit against Google for collecting data from millions of iPhone users

"We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused," he added.

The breach comes hard on the heels of another hack in Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) involving 50 million people.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google did not disclose the issue partly due to fears by the company of regulatory scrutiny.

The paper quoted a Google spokesperson as saying that the company considered “whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response. None of these thresholds were met here.”

FAANG Report: Facebook may be fined $1.63B by EU over data breach 

As a result of the breach, the company is winding down consumer versions of Google+ over a 10-month period through August 2019.

Tech companies have come under fire for a string of data breaches. One of the earliest is Facebook, which has been hit by allegations of the improper use of data for 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica. 

Shares of Google in New York dropped 2.6% to the session low at $1,127.36, but recovered to close on Monday 0.72% off at $1,148.97. 

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