Phone numbers of 500 million WhatsApp users are for sale online: report

Canada Global (Web News) WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta, is back in the spotlight, but this time not for its updates but rather for a threat to the security of its users.

The social messaging website’s 500 million members’ current cell phone numbers are supposedly in the possession of someone online, according to Cybernews, which confirmed this via an examined data sample.

On November 16, the person claiming to possess the purported information posted a buy-data ad on a hacking community forum and promised to sell the database of 487 million WhatsApp users with “recent cell numbers” as of 2022.

The dataset, according to the advertisement, supposedly includes user data from 84 different nations. The claimed supplier asserts that records of more than 45 million Egyptian users, 35 million Italian users, and more than 32 million US users are readily available.

Additionally, there are 20 million users each from France and Turkey, as well as 29 million users from Saudi Arabia.

More than 11 million customers from the United Kingdom and around 10 million users from Russia are also said to be in danger of having their mobile phone numbers sold.

Cybernews was informed by the person selling the data that datasets from the US, UK, and Germany could be purchased for $7,000, $2,500, and $2,000, respectively.

According to statistics, WhatsApp has more than two billion monthly active users worldwide.

Because attackers frequently exploit information like users’ mobile phone numbers for vishing and smishing attacks, it is advised that users avoid answering opportunistic calls and texts and be sceptical of unidentified numbers.

The suspected vendor has not disclosed how they acquired the information; instead, they have told Cybernews that they “applied their method” to do so, assuring the newspaper that all of the numbers in their possession belong to users of the social messaging app who are actively using them.

Meta, on the other hand, is silent at this time.

Mantas Sasnauskas, the leader of the Cybernews research team, said: “In this day and age, we all leave a sizable digital footprint, and tech giants like Meta should take all procedures and means to preserve that data.”

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