Hackers leak phone numbers and personal data from 533 MILLION Facebook users online
- Database appeared to be same set of numbers circulating since January 2021
- Personal information is being offered for a few euros’ worth of digital credit
- Journalists say they have been able to match known phone numbers to database
Facebook hackers have leaked phone numbers and personal data from 553 million users online.
The database appears to be the same set of numbers circulating in hacker circles since January, according to Alon Gal, co-founder of Israeli cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock.
Personal information is being offered for a few euros’ worth of digital credit on a well-known site for digital hackers and Mr Gal said he had verified the authenticity of the data.
Other journalists say they have also been able to match known phone numbers to the details in the data dump.
The database appears to be the same set of numbers circulating in hacker circles since January, according to Alon Gal, co-founder of Israeli cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock (file image)
An attempt by Reuters to reach the leaker over the messaging service Telegram was not immediately successful. Facebook did not return messages seeking comment.
Tech publication Motherboard, which first reported the leak earlier this year, cited Facebook as saying the leaked data appeared to be the fruit of a bug that the company fixed in August 2019.
Gal told Reuters that Facebook users should be alert to ‘social engineering attacks’ by people who may have obtained their phone numbers or other private data in the coming months.
In 2019, phone numbers linked to more than 400 million Facebook accounts were posted online.
According to TechCrunch, 133 million US accounts, more than 50 million in Vietnam, and 18 million in Britain were among 419 million records left in an open online server that was not secured with a password.
This includes, according to the person who unearthed the database, profiles and phone numbers of some celebrities.
Facebook confirmed the report, but said the total number is likely to be around half because of duplicate entries.
The issue was thought to be from publicly available information previously used to allow people to search for others by using their phone number, which was disabled in April 2018 in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In 2019, phone numbers linked to more than 400 million Facebook accounts were posted online (file image)
It is claimed that the server listed some accounts and their geographical locations, with a user’s unique Facebook ID stored alongside their phone number, as well as their gender.
The haul meant people were exposed to potential fraud attempts including spam calls and SIM-swapping attacks where criminals try and get hold of more personal details by deceiving carrier firms.
The server was not password protected, meaning anyone could access the databases.
FACEBOOK’S PRIVACY DISASTERS
April 2020: Facebook hackers leaked phone numbers and personal data from 553 million users online.
July 2019: Facebook data scandal: Social network is fined $5billion over ‘inappropriate’ sharing of users’ personal information
March 2019: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to rebuild based on six ‘privacy-focused’ principles:
- Private interactions
- Reducing permanence
- Secure data storage
Zuckerberg promised end-to-end encryption for all of its messaging services, which will be combined in a way that allows users to communicate across WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, and Facebook Messenger.
December 2018: Facebook comes under fire after a bombshell report discovered the firm allowed over 150 companies, including Netflix, Spotify and Bing, to access unprecedented amounts of user data, such as private messages.
Some of these ‘partners’ had the ability to read, write, and delete Facebook users’ private messages and to see all participants on a thread.
It also allowed Microsoft’s search engine, known as Bing, to see the name of all Facebook users’ friends without their consent.
Amazon was allowed to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and Yahoo could view streams of friends’ posts.
September 2018: Facebook disclosed that it had been hit by its worst ever data breach, affecting 50 million users – including those of Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Attackers exploited the site’s ‘View As’ feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other users.
Facebook (file image) made headlines in March 2018 after the data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy
The unknown attackers took advantage of a feature in the code called ‘Access Tokens,’ to take over people’s accounts, potentially giving hackers access to private messages, photos and posts – although Facebook said there was no evidence that had been done.
The hackers also tried to harvest people’s private information, including name, sex and hometown, from Facebook’s systems.
Zuckerberg assured users that passwords and credit card information was not accessed.
As a result of the breach, the firm logged roughly 90 million people out of their accounts as a security measure.
March 2018: Facebook made headlines after the data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy.
The disclosure has prompted government inquiries into the company’s privacy practices across the world, and fueled a ‘#deleteFacebook’ movement among consumers.
Communications firm Cambridge Analytica had offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.
The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.
‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claimed on its website.
The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump
This meant the company was able to mine the information of 87 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.
This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.
This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.
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