WhatsApp number stockpile up for sale; 1.3mn Aussie digits in the hacker’s shopping trolley!

By Our Reporter
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Representational Photo by Rachit Tank on Unsplash

The anonymity of our digital presence, something that we once took for granted, is being pierced through at an alarming pace. A notorious threat actor has claimed to possess a database of 487 million WhatsApp user mobile numbers, and they’ve put a price on them. Alarmingly, the database allegedly includes an astonishing 1.3 million Australian and a whopping 7 million additional Aussie numbers. It’s unclear if these claims are true.

On a popular hacking community forum, the threat actor offered the entire database, claiming that the data originated from 84 different countries. Among these, a staggering 32 million records purportedly belong to US users. The sale also includes massive numbers from Egypt, Italy, Saudi Arabia, France, and Turkey, with nearly 10 million Russian and 11 million UK citizens’ phone numbers also allegedly up for grabs.

In a chilling disclosure, the threat actor revealed their pricing structure to the cybersecurity news platform, Cybernews. The rates for the dataset varied with the US dataset costing $7,000, the UK dataset coming at $2,500, and the German one priced at $2,000.

The risks attached to such data breaches are considerable. The information is commonly exploited by cybercriminals for smishing and vishing attacks. This vulnerability necessitates all users to be alert to unsolicited calls and messages, particularly those originating from unknown numbers.

The method by which the database was obtained remains an enigma. The seller vaguely hinted at using “their strategy” to assemble the data, whilst ensuring that all the numbers pertained to active WhatsApp users. Speculations are rife that this data could have been obtained through large-scale scraping, a method which flagrantly breaches WhatsApp’s Terms of Service. Earlier this year, Meta faced considerable criticism when over 533 million user records were leaked on a dark forum. Days later, a data archive purportedly scraped from 500 million LinkedIn profiles was offered for sale on a hacker forum.

The leaked phone numbers expose users to a plethora of threats, including marketing misuse, phishing, impersonation, and fraud. Mantas Sasnauskas, head of the Cybernews research team, cautioned, “In this age, we all leave a sizeable digital footprint—and tech giants like Meta should take all precautions and means to safeguard that data. Companies should take rigorous steps to mitigate threats and prevent platform abuse from a technical standpoint.”

As the global community grapples with this massive data breach, it is important for us to remain vigilant. Keeping our digital presence secure must be a priority as we navigate this digital era. After all, as this incident starkly demonstrates, it’s not just a “WhatsApp Woe,” it’s a distressing indication of the vulnerabilities of our digital age.


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