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Data of 500 million WhatsApp users leaked, available for sale online: Report

WhatsApp did not immediately respond to this.

New Delhi:

An actor posted an advertisement on a famous hacking community forum on November 16, claiming that they are selling a 2022 database of around 500 million WhatsApp user mobile numbers. This dataset reportedly includes data of WhatsApp users from 84 countries. The actor claims that it contains a record of more than 32 million US users.

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Another large portion of the phone numbers belong to citizens of Egypt (45 million), Italy (35 million), Saudi Arabia (29 million), France (20 million) and Turkey (20 million). The dataset for sale also reportedly contains the phone numbers of around 10 million Russians and over 11 million UK citizens. The threat actors told CyberNews they were selling the US dataset for $7,000, the UK for $2,500 and Germany for $2,000.

Such information is mostly used by attackers for smishing and vishing attacks, so we advise users to be careful of any calls from unknown numbers, unwanted calls and messages. WhatsApp has over two billion active users globally.

The vendor of WhatsApp’s database shared a sample of the data with CyberNews researchers upon request. The sample shared contained 1097 UK and 817 US user numbers. CyberNews cross-checked all the numbers included in the sample and was able to confirm that they are indeed WhatsApp users.

However, the vendor did not specify how they obtained the database. It only said that they “used their own tactics” to collect the data, and assured CyberNews that all the numbers given were of active WhatsApp users.

CyberNews contacted Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, but did not receive an immediate response.

Mass gathering of WhatsApp users’ information, also known as scraping, is a violation of WhatsApp’s terms of service. This claim is purely speculative. However, it is often obtained by scraping massive data dumps posted online.

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