Last Friday, Facebook announced that account entry keys of at least 50 million Facebook users had been stolen in the largest hacking of the company's 14-year history. Photo: Reuters

CAPE TOWN – Last Friday, Facebook announced that account entry keys of at least 50 million Facebook users had been stolen in the largest hacking of the company's 14-year history. 

The hacking exposed major vulnerabilities about Facebook, with hackers walking away with access tokens. 

These tokens would allow hackers to gain full control of users’ Facebook accounts. 

What makes the heist worse is that it is not only confined to Facebook. Other websites that use a Facebook login to access them will also bear the brunt. 

The breach reminds us of the catastrophic attack on Yahoo in 2016. Yahoo said attackers who managed to gain access to its code forged 32 million access tokens.

Lack of security on the web is something that can no longer be sustained if we are to truly build sustainable economies. 

It is something that requires serious attention.

One person who brought us the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is doing something about this global problem.

Berners-Lee said he would take a break from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to focus on a start-up that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. And this week he launched Inrupt – a start-up that he believes will decentralise the web and take back power from monopolies such as Facebook and Google who have profited from centralising it. 

This is an important development for the web, partly because at the root of the problems is the fact that users don't have control of their data. The recent Facebook hacking would not have been possible if users had full control of their data. 

Game changer

Inrupt is developing a platform called Solid that hopes to change the name of the game. 

According to Berners-Lee, Solid will give every user a choice about where data is stored, which specific people and groups can access select elements, and which apps to use. It will allow you (as the user), your family and colleagues to share data with anyone and to look at the data with different apps at the same time. 

The inventor of the web has been working with a few people at MIT and elsewhere to develop Solid, an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web. 

Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value.

Berners-Lee’s invention has the potential to solve the web trust problem. He says he believes that people want to have a web and apps that help them do what they want and need to do – without being spied on.

While the inventor is working on the solution to the challenge brought to society by companies such as Facebook and others, it is important that individuals, businesses and countries take action. 

It is clear that internet giants are not in this game to save society and no law will safeguard users of the web from abuse. 

Companies need to consider ap- pointing chief cyber security officers to embed security strategies within businesses. 

Countries need to take a firm stand against companies that are mis- 
handling the citizens' data. 

Wesley Diphoko is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Infonomist. He founded Kaya Labs, a platform that trains young tech leaders. Follow him on Twitter via: @WesleyDiphoko

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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