Phone numbers of 487 million WhatsApp users have been stolen and put on sale on a “well-known” hacking community forum, according to a report by Cybernews.
The information of 3.8 million Bangladeshi users were also included in the list.
The database, allegedly from 2022 containing this private information, spans users from 84 countries including the US, the UK, Egypt, Italy, and India. The hacker behind the breach claims all numbers belong to seemingly “active” WhatsApp users.
As per the report, the leaked database includes phone numbers of over 32 million users from the US and over 11.5 million from the UK. The breach, however, seems to have impacted users from Egypt the most with about 45 million potentially at risk.
The hacker also claims to have access to phone numbers of over 35 million users from Italy, nearly 10 million from Russia, and over 6 million users from India. WhatsApp has over two billion monthly active users globally and if the report were to be accurate, we may be looking at one of the, if not the biggest data breaches in the history of the Meta-owned instant messaging platform.
Cybernews was able to get in touch with the hacker, the report claims, and was able to obtain a sample of 1097 UK and 817 US user phone numbers from the list and upon investigation, its researchers found all of them to be active WhatsApp users. The hacker did not share finer details about how they got these numbers but the report speculates “scraping” could be one of the ways. The technique involves harvesting of data at scale, oftentimes using bots, and stands in violation of WhatsApp’s terms of service.