Phone numbers of half a billion WhatsApp users leaked online in one of the largest data breaches

By Shikhar Mehrotra | Published 27 Nov 2022 17:18 IST
HIGHLIGHTS
  • The leaked data contains the phone numbers of about half a billion users.

  • They could be used for online scamming and fraud.

  • Here is everything we know about the WhatsApp data leak.

Phone numbers of half a billion WhatsApp users leaked online in one of the largest data breaches

According to a report by Cybernews, the phone numbers of more than half a billion WhatsApp users have been leaked and put online for sale. The publication claims to have investigated a data sample after discovering a "well-known hacking community forum" post that claimed to be selling a database of 487 million users. To give readers an idea, 487 million makes up a quarter of WhatsApp's two billion monthly active users.

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The leaked dataset contains information of users from over 80 countries

The leaked data contains the phone numbers of users, which could be used for scamming people. The database contains the details of 44 million users from Egypt, 35 million users from Italy, 32 million from the USA, 28 million from Saudi Arabia, and about 6 million users from India, among others countries. "The dataset for sale also allegedly has nearly 10 million Russian and over 11 million UK citizens' phone numbers," adds the report.  

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The threat actor told the publication that the United States' dataset is being sold for $7,000, and the United Kingdom's dataset is being sold for $2,500. More often than not, such a database is often used by bad actors for vishing attacks. Upon request, the threat actor shared a data sample with the publication, which confirmed that all the phone numbers were true of existing WhatsApp users.  

Users should stay alert against fake messages or calls

This is not the first time a Meta-owned platform has seen a data breach. Before this, the data of millions of Facebook users was being sold in a dark web forum. The Microsoft-owned professional networking platform LinkedIn recently witnessed a massive data breach. Although it is very difficult to check whether a user's data has been leaked, they should avoid responding to calls, messages or emails from strangers, especially those that contain a link, as it could redirect them to a malicious website.

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For more technology newsproduct reviews, sci-tech features and updates, keep reading Digit.in or head to our Google News page

For more technology news, product reviews, sci-tech features and updates, keep reading Digit.in or head to our Google News page.

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Shikhar Mehrotra

Email Shikhar Mehrotra

About Me: Writing for more than four years, Shikhar is not just a tech journalist but a tech enthusiast who watches smartphone launch events like his favourite Marvel movies. He stays in sync with all the new toys released by giants and specialises in consumer tech Read More

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