Facebook apps leaked data, no evidence of misuse

Posted May 11, 2011, at 10:20 p.m.

NEW YORK — Security firm Symantec has discovered a security flaw in Facebook that inadvertently gives advertisers and other outside parties access to people’s accounts. But Facebook said it has fixed the problem and found no evidence that any private information was shared with any outside party.

Symantec said Tuesday that the outside parties may not even have realized they were able to access users’ profiles, photos and chats.

The problem was leaking “access tokens,” which are akin to spare keys that let apps access your profile if you gave them permission, Symantec researcher Nishant Doshi said in a blog post.

Doshi estimates that some 100,000 applications were enabling the data leak as of April. Over the years, however, hundreds of thousands of applications may have accidentally leaked millions of access tokens to outside parties.

Bedbugs may play role in spread of MRSA

A peer-reviewed study published Wednesday in a journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that bedbugs could play a role in disease transmission. In a tiny sample of bedbugs, collected from patients living in crowded conditions in an impoverished neighborhood in Canada, researchers found the drug-resistant bacteria known as MRSA.

The researchers and doctors at a Vancouver, B.C., hospital tested three patients from the high-drug-use neighborhood who were infested with bed bugs. They collected five bedbugs and determined that the insects carried two types of drug-resistant bacteria. Three bedbugs from one patient contained methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and the two from the other patients each contained vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium.

MRSA has increasingly turned up in hospitals and in outbreaks outside of health care settings, such as among athletes, prison inmates and children.

“Even though this is a small study, it suggests that bedbugs may be playing a role in the transmission of MRSA in inner city populations where bedbug infestations are a problem,” said Marc Romney, one of the study’s authors.

The study does not answer many key questions. It did not determine whether the bacteria were transmitted from the patient to the bugs or the other way around. Nor did it determine whether the bacteria were on the outside of each bug or living and growing inside it, which would suggest the possibility of biological transmission, researchers said.

Slovak cannibal suspect arrested after gunbattle

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — A would-be cannibal was arrested and in critical condition after being wounded in a gunbattle with officers during an undercover operation, officials said Wednesday. A policeman was also wounded.

The 43-year-old suspect used the Internet to search for a person who wanted to commit suicide and would agree to let him eat the body, police said. A Swiss citizen initially agreed but later changed his mind and informed authorities.

Slovak authorities said the suspect agreed on a plan with the would-be victim to intoxicate him and then stab him in the heart with a knife in nearby woods. After that, he wanted to cut the body into pieces and gradually take them to his home to eat them.

TA3 television said the suspect, a father of two young daughters, lived in a nearby village of Sokol.

Police spokeswoman Denisa Baloghova said Wednesday the suspect was shot several times and is unable to speak with investigators.

Vatican to issue letter on abuse guidelines Monday

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Monday will issue a new document designed to help bishops around the world craft guidelines to deal with clerical sex abuse cases, the latest effort by the Holy See to show it is trying to get tough with pedophiles in the clergy.

It’s not clear though, if the letter from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will contain any binding instructions for the bishops themselves or will merely be a set of recommendations for them to consider following.

It is being issued at a time when even the most stringent guidelines in force, the sex abuse norms of the U.S. bishops, have been put into question amid a new scandal in the Philadelphia archdiocese.

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