According to our colleagues at Cybernews, on November 16, a database containing the mobile phone numbers of almost 487 million WhatsApp users went on sale on the dark web. Affected users are at risk of being spammed and phished.
WhatsApp has almost 2 billion users worldwide, so this database will represent a quarter of the app’s users.
20 million French phones and more than 3 million Belgian phones were particularly affected. It will also affect 32 million users in the US, 45 million users in Egypt, 35 million in Italy, 29 million in Saudi Arabia, 20 million in Turkey, 10 million in Russia and more than 11 million phone numbers in the UK.
The Cybernews website has examined a sample of this data that likely supports this claim.
According to NordVPN cybersecurity expert Daniel Markuson, “contact leaks are a goldmine for scammers.” “Given the scale of data breaches, we can expect more phishing, smishing (phishing via text messages) or social engineering attacks around the world. Even if the data is only a phone number, criminals can use it to access personal information such as passwords, banking details, and identification documents. The damage caused by cybercriminals is just one call or message per person.”
He also gave some advice to WhatsApp users to “determine if they are affected by the data breach.” “To do this, they can use sites like “haveibeenpwned” or NordVPN’s dark web monitor, which constantly scans dark websites for data access and notifies users when they are up for sale. Affected users should now be even more vigilant if they receive text messages or calls from unknown numbers.”