Personal data of more than 500 million Facebook users released online

The personal data of more than 500 million users of the Facebook social network, including phone numbers and email addresses, were released online this Saturday in a hacking forum, Business Insider magazine reported.

According to the magazine, a forum user posted the phone numbers and personal details of 533 million Facebook users. The exposed data includes personal information from Facebook users from 106 countries, including more than 32 million records in the US, 11 million in the UK, and 6 million in India. They include your phone numbers, Facebook identity, full names, locations, dates of birth, biographies and – in some cases – email addresses.

The data released is old and a Facebook spokesman told the magazine that it was stolen due to a vulnerability, which the company fixed in 2019. Despite this, Alon Gal, of the cybercrime company Hudson Rock, the first to discover the size of the stolen data, he warned that it can still provide valuable information to computer criminals.

“A database of this size, containing private information, such as the phone numbers of many Facebook users, would certainly take bad elements to take advantage of the data to carry out attacks or hacking attempts,” he said, quoted by Insider. According to Gal, his company discovered the data released for the first time in January, when a user on the hacking forum announced that a “bot” (pirated program) could provide phone numbers for hundreds of millions of Facebook users in return. of a cash value, having verified that the data were legitimate.

The entire data set has now been published for free on the same hacking forum, making it widely available to anyone with rudimentary knowledge of data.

This was not the first time that such a large amount of information from Facebook users has been exposed online. The vulnerability of the social network, which was discovered in 2019 allowed millions of people’s phone numbers to be removed from Facebook’s servers. The company previously pledged to tighten security after the scandal with Cambridge Analytica, which released data for 80 million users, violating Facebook’s terms of service, to target voters with political ads in the 2016 United States elections.

According to Alon Gal, from a security point of view, there is not much that Facebook can do to help users affected by the breach, since their data is already exposed, but he added that Facebook could notify users to that they could remain vigilant for possible “phishing” (data theft) schemes.
“Individuals who sign up with a reputable company like Facebook are entrusting their data to them and Facebook is supposed to treat the data with the utmost respect,” said Gal.
“The leak of users’ personal information is a huge breach of trust and must be dealt with accordingly,” he stressed.

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