500 million WhatsApp users may find their phone numbers leaked online in one of the biggest data leaks

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Nearly 500 million WhatsApp users’ phone numbers have been listed for sale online in what may be one of the greatest data breaches. Cybernews said that an actor claimed to be selling a database with the cell numbers of 487 million WhatsApp users in 2022 in an advertisement placed on a hacking group site. Users’ mobile numbers from 84 different countries, including the US, UK, Egypt, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and even India, are included in the database.

Attackers primarily utilise the information for phishing scams. Therefore, it is advised that WhatsApp users avoid calls and messages from ominous numbers.

The threat actor asserts that the data trove contains the records of more than 32 million US users. Similar numbers of users are affected in Egypt (45 million), Italy (35 million), Saudi Arabia (29 million), France (20 million), and Turkey (20 million). According to reports, the database contains the phone numbers of around 10 million Russians and over 11 million Britons.

According to the article, the threat actor is allegedly asking $7,000 (or around $5,71,690) for the US dataset. However, the price for the datasets for the UK and Germany is $2,500 (about $2,04,175) and $2,000 (around $1,63,340), respectively.

The selling assertion is merely theoretical, the paper continues. Massive data files that are published online frequently come from scraping, which is against WhatsApp’s terms of service. The supplier asserts that all of the numbers belong to actual users of the platform that Meta owns. The seller said that they “applied their strategy” to gather the data, yet it was unclear how he acquired the database.

This is not the first time a data breach involving Meta and its platforms has made headlines. Over 500 million Facebook users’ information was freely available online last year thanks to a leaker. Phone numbers and other information were then exposed in the hacked data.

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