WhatsApp phone numbers of around 500 million users put up for sale: report – NewsNaija.com.ng

WhatsApp has reportedly experienced a data breach, leading to the theft of critical user data. In what could be one of the biggest data breaches ever, numbers of nearly half a billion WhatsApp users have been put up for sale online. A report by Cybernews (via) claimed that the leaked phone numbers of WhatsApp users were put up for sale as an advertisement on a hacker community forum.

The announcement post claimed to have the latest details of the 2022 database of 487 million WhatsApp users. These users were from a variety of countries. Let’s see more details about the cybercrime that has put the privacy of the affected users at risk.

WhatsApp phone numbers on offer

The phone numbers of some 500 million WhatsApp users have reportedly been put up for sale online. These users belong to different countries of the world. The list of 84 countries includes the US, UK, Egypt, Italy, Saudi Arabia, etc. The report also indicated that some of the victims whose phone numbers were put up for sale were from India.

While the number of phone records from Indian users is unknown, the report states that more than 32 million US user records were put up for sale for $7,000 (roughly Rs 5,71,700). The leaked database also includes phone numbers of some 45 million Egyptian users, 35 million users from Italy, 29 million users from Saudi Arabia, 20 million from France and 20 million from Turkey. In addition to this, the announcement revealed that the database includes 10 million phone numbers of Russian citizens and more than 11 million from the UK.

Those who wish to access these details will have to pay $2,500 (roughly Rs 204,200) and $2,000 (roughly Rs 163,300) for the UK and German databases respectively.

The seller also claimed that the phone numbers belong to active users of the Meta-owned messaging app. Although the hacker did not specify how he obtained the database, he claimed to have “used his strategy” to collect the data.

Hackers often use the leaked details for phishing purposes. Phishing is one of the cyber attacks where the hacker impersonates a genuine person or an application to gain access to the victim’s sensitive information. The hacker can also deploy malware on the victim’s device in search of ransomware or steal data without the victim’s knowledge.

What should you do if you think your phone number has been leaked? First of all, avoid answering calls from suspicious phone numbers from other countries. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) usually advises users to avoid answering calls from phone numbers whose country code is not +91, which belongs to India. Users should also avoid replying to messages from unknown numbers. In addition to this, do not install any application or service if an unknown number sends a link that redirects to some third party website or store. Users must download and install authorized apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

WhatsApp or Meta have not officially released a statement or confirmed the incident as of this writing.

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