Facebook exposes its home page code to hackers

August 12, 2007

Facebook exposes its home page code to hackers The source code for the main page of the popular Facebook social networking site has been published by Facebook Secrets, a blog that seems to have been set up with the sole purpose of distributing the code.

“Some of Facebook’s source code was exposed to a small number of users due to a bug on a single server that was misconfigured and then fixed immediately,” Facebook’s Brandee Barker told Nik Cubrilovic at TechCrunch.

“It was not a security breach and did not compromise user data in any way. The reprinting of this code violates several laws and we ask that people not distribute it further.”

The problem for Facebook is that while there may not have been any security breech, as such, the release of the code will certainly help hackers identify security flaws, which may lead to security flaws down the track.

Programmers are already having a field day analyzing the code:

“For instance, the structure doesn’t follow any object oriented development practices, and it seems that the application is one large PHP file with a large number of custom functions living in the same namespace (they also seem to be using the Smarty templating engine),” wrote Cubrilovic.

By pure coincidence, Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old Harvard dropout who started the Facebook is being featured on this coming week’s cover of NewsWeek . Apparently he told Editor Steven Levy that Facebook is:

  1. Not a social-networking site but a “utility,” a tool to facilitate the information flow between users and their compatriots, family members and professional connections
  2. Not just for college students, and
  3. A world-changing idea of unlimited potential.

That may all be true, but as this incident demonstrates, there’s still a lot of work to be done in creating a platform that users can trust.

As a side note, given that Facebook Secrets has been published on Google’s Blogger service (on the blogspot.com URL), it’s a wonder that Google hasn’t already deleted the blog. No doubt Facebook Secrets will be pulled as soon as Blogger employees get to work on Monday morning.

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