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WhatsApp data breach: 500 million users’ phone numbers on sale

In what could be one of the biggest data breaches, phone numbers of nearly 500 million WhatsApp users are put on sale online. According to a report by Cybernews, an actor posted an ad on a hacking community forum, claiming that it is selling a 2022 database of 487 million WhatsApp user mobile numbers. The database contains mobile numbers of WhatsApp users from 84 different countries that includes the US, the UK, Egypt, Italy, Saudi Arabia and even India.

The information is mostly used by attackers for phishing attacks. It is therefore advisable for WhatsApp users to refrain from calls and messages from unknown numbers.

WhatsApp dataset on sale

The threat actor claims that the data set has over 32 million US user records. Simialrly, the impacted users are 45 million in Egypt, 35 million in Italy, 29 million in Saudi Arabia, 20 million in France and 20 million in Turkey. The database allegedly has nearly 10 million Russian and over 11 million UK citizens’ phone numbers.

The report claims that the threat actor is selling the US dataset for $7,000 (approx. 5,71,690). While the cost for the UK and Germany datasets is $2,500 (approx. 2,04,175) and $2,000 (approx. 1,63,340), respectively.

The report further adds that the seller claim is purely speculative. More often, massive data sets posted online are obtained by scraping, violating WhatsApp’s Terms of Service. However, the seller claims that all the numbers belong to active users of the Meta-owned platform. Although it did not specify how he obtained the database, the seller said that they “used their strategy” to collect the data.

This is not the first time Meta and its platforms have made headlines for data breach. Last year, a leakster was offering information of more than 500 million Facebook users online for free. The leaked data then included phone numbers and other details.

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