Last Tuesday, engineers at Facebook were conducting a routine investigation of some unusual activity around one of the social network’s online features, when they discovered the alarming signs of a hacker attack. They flagged it for immediate examination by more senior engineers, including Pedro Canahuati, a vice president of engineering at Facebook who leads the company’s technical response to security and data privacy incidents.
The issue turned out to be a major breach of the social network, disclosed by Facebook last Friday, which allowed hackers to take over more than 50 million Facebook accounts. It was a grim reminder of how enticing a target Facebook—with more than 2.2 billion members—is for cyberthieves. It also demonstrates how far the company has to go to prevent such security lapses in the future.