Whatsapp Hacked: Sensitive Info Of 50 Crore Whatsapp Users Being Sold By Hackers
Earlier this week it was found that a database of phone numbers of one-quarter of all WhatsApp users was put up for sale on a hacking community forum.
The sellers have confirmed that all numbers on the list belong to active WhatsApp accounts.
The database comprised phone numbers of about 487 million WhatsApp users belonging to 84 countries, including India.
India data, selling price
Out of this, over 32 million numbers are from the U.S., 45 million from Egypt, five million from Italy, 29 million from Saudi Arabia, 20 million (each) from France and Turkey, 10 million phone numbers from Russian users, and over 11 million are UK numbers.
Reportedly, there are 6,162,450 records of Indian WhatsApp users on sale.
The US dataset was being sold for $7,000, the UK for $2,500, and Germany for $2,000.
This type of personal user information is mostly used for marketing and phishing, impersonation, and fraud attacks.
The hacker/seller did not mention how they got a hold of this data and suggested they “used their strategy” to collect the same.
How was the data obtained?
It is possible that the hackers did not technically “hack” WhatsApp, but gathered the data via “web scraping”.
This involves running an automated script to confirm web pages that the numbers are being used for WhatsApp.
Simply put, the numbers were stolen from various other websites which store phone numbers of users.
How to keep one’s data secure
There’s no way of finding out whether one’s phone number is in that database.
However, there are some ways a user can keep their data on the app secure, by changing “Last seen and online”, “Profile photo”, and “About” to “Contacts only” in WhatsApp settings.
People should also be wary of messages or calls from unknown numbers and are advised to not respond to them and instead delete or block it.