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Massive Breach Exposes Data of 533M Facebook Users

A huge trove of data was uploaded to an online forum used by hackers and reportedly includes email addresses and biographical information. The stolen personal information could be used by scammers and identity thieves.

by Steve Rubenstein, San Francisco Chronicle / April 5, 2021

(TNS) — Phone numbers and personal information of half a billion Facebook users may have been stolen and posted online in an unprecedented security breach, Business Insider reported Saturday.

The huge trove of data was uploaded to an online forum used by hackers. It reportedly includes email addresses and biographical information. Alon Gal, the co-founder and chief technology officer of the private cyber crime intelligence firm Hudson Rock, first posted about the data breach early Saturday morning on social media platforms, including Twitter and LinkedIn. He shared screenshots showing an online marketplace where 533 million records were being solicited by a Telegram user with a redacted account name.
 
"This means that if you have a Facebook account, it is extremely likely the phone number used for the account was leaked," Gal wrote on Twitter. If each record represents a single Facebook user as Business Insider has reported, that means roughly 19% of the social media giant's 2.8 billion individual profiles' personal information was compromised. According to Gal, more than 32 million compromised records originated from the United States.
 
Business Insider reported that user information had been posted on a "low level hacking forum."
The Menlo Park social media company did not immediately respond to The Chronicle's request for comment.
 
According to Business Insider's reporting, the trove of records was first obtained in 2019 because of a software "vulnerability." The online news outlet said it verified the leak by matching known Facebook users' phone numbers with the leaked data.
 
The stolen personal information could be used by scammers and identity thieves. Facebook has been the subject of past security breaches, including one involving the British firm Cambridge Analytica in which the personal information of an estimated 50 million Facebook users was sold to and used by the 2016 presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz.
 
©2021 the San Francisco Chronicle, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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