Sci-tech

Millions of British Facebook users' phone numbers appear online

Millions of British Facebook users' phone numbers appear online”

The latest security breach exposed the phone numbers of 419 million users, even after Facebook said it has restricted access to that information over a year ago as part of a policy update.

Hundreds of millions of phone numbers tied to Facebook accounts appeared in databases online that anyone could find and access before the information was taken down.

Sanyam Jain, a security researcher from the GDI Foundation discovered the dataset on an unprotected server and told TechCrunch he was unable to find the person who scraped that information from Facebook.

Amongst the hundreds of millions of records exposed, 133 million belong to US users, 18 million are UK-based user records, and 50 million from Vietnam.

Facebook confirmed the report and said it was investigating when and by whom the database was compiled.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company is still crunching the numbers but there were duplicates in those records.

More news: MP Soames to lose Tory whip after rebelling over no-deal Brexit

What just happened? A researcher has found several databases stored on an unprotected server that held personal information - mostly phone numbers - of hundreds of millions of Facebook users. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March 2018, Facebook shut down that search tool in April 2018.

"Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we've seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way", Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer, wrote at the time. The company says that data set has since been taken down and that it has no evidence Facebook accounts were actually compromised.

He told TechCrunchhe found phone numbers linked to several celebrities.

The database was not protected by a password and the leaked phone numbers could have been used to make spam calls.

Skilled attackers can often leverage a mobile phone number and information gained through data brokers or social media sites (such as home address, previous addresses, family members, etc) to persuade mobile phone carriers to transfer a target's phone number to a different phone.



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