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Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Facebook disclosed last Friday that 50 million accounts had been breached, and forcibly logged out 90 million affected users. It appears the hackers could have accessed sensitive profile information, purchase histories and private messages. Most disturbingly, since Facebook logins can be used on other sites, companies using that Facebook Connect feature are now rushing to figure out whether their sites were breached.

Why it matters: Single-sign-on login systems do not make a hack more likely. But they do affect what a hacker can access from inside a system. While Facebook reports there is no evidence third-party apps were accessed, this incident should cause consumers to re-evaluate whether to link accounts in the first place.

Single-sign-on systems allow hackers to get more information in one sweep. So, for third-party apps that contain sensitive data, it’s important to compartmentalize. If data held on the third-party site — medical records, for example — would be more sensitive if linked to a Facebook account, it should be kept separate. Similarly, if two third-party sites contain data that would be more sensitive if accessed together — say, credit card information and upcoming travel plans — those shouldn’t be linked either.

Yes, but: Facebook Connect–style login systems are still useful where the third-party app does not contain sensitive information. For sites without payment information or personal data, using Facebook Connect is convenient and poses limited risk. Because such systems can be easier to reset, they also can prevent hackers’ long-term access.

The bottom line: Even the companies best at protecting consumer data will not get it right all the time. All it takes is a handful of flaws — in this case, three — for a hacker to enter a system. Consumers need to be wary of linking information that collectively make them more vulnerable. Information that must be kept private is best left offline.

Betsy Cooper is joining the Aspen Institute's Technology and Cybersecurity Program this month as policy director. She is also a senior advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group.

Go deeper

Top Wall Street cop says report on meme stocks is coming

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wall Street's top regulator says a report examining meme stock mania will be coming "sometime this summer."

The big picture: It will "detail the range of activities" that came out of the January events," SEC chair Gary Gensler said Thursday at a third congressional hearing held to dissect the GameStop trading phenomenon.

Exclusive: Jennifer Garner to be featured in Mother's Day vaccination campaign

Jennifer Garner. Photo by IngleDodd Media/via Getty Images

Actress Jennifer Garner will team up with the Biden administration in a coordinated campaign to encourage vaccinations around Mother's Day, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: The administration is eager to keep up the pace of inoculations now that all adult Americans are eligible but the pace of vaccinations is starting to slow.

Rideshare companies say driver shortage is pushing prices up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's not just you: Uber and Lyft rides are more expensive, company executives said this week.

Why it matters: Demand for rideshare is roaring back as the economy starts to reopen, but the same can't be said for drivers on the apps. That means fewer cars on the road, causing a supply gap that's pushing up prices.

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