Nearly 500 million WhatsApp users’ phone numbers have been exposed in one of the worst data breaches ever, and they are now for sale. According to a report by Cybernews, the database, which is for sale on a well-known hacker forum, comprises the personal data of WhatsApp users from 84 different countries.
WhatsApp has denied the claims. “The claim written on Cybernews is based on unsubstantiated screenshots. There is no evidence of a ‘data leak’ from WhatsApp,” said a spokesperson.
There are 32 million US user records in the package, according to the person who put the data up for sale. Additionally, it has a sizable user base in Egypt, Italy, France, the UK, Russia, and India.
The US dataset is reportedly available for $7,000, while the UK dataset will cost $2,500.
According to Cybernews, when they got in touch with the seller, he gave 1,097 UK-based phone numbers as evidence. After looking into the numbers, the outlet was able to identify that they were all from WhatsApp accounts.
The hacker, however, didn’t say how they got the information.
Such data is frequently employed in cybercrimes like smishing and vishing, which both entail sending the victim a text message with a link that must be clicked. The user is then prompted for their payment card number or other sensitive information.
This is not the first time a platform operated by Meta has experienced a data leak. Over 500 million Facebook users’ personal information, including 6 million records from India, allegedly fell into the wrong hands last year. Phone numbers and other information were then exposed in the hacked data.