Facebook data of over 500 million users from more than 100 countries found available on website for hackers

The data set has information from 106 countries including phone numbers, Facebook IDs, locations and email addresses

Update: The article has been updated with a statement from Check Point research on the data leak. The article was originally published on 4 April 2021.

Details from more than 500 million Facebook users have been found available on a website for hackers. The information appears to be several years old, but it is another example of the vast amount of information collected by Facebook and other social media sites, and the limits to how secure that information is. The availability of the data set was first reported by Business Insider. According to that publication, it has information from 106 countries including phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, and email addresses.

Facebook app on iOS

Facebook app on iOS

Facebook has been grappling with data security issues for years. In 2018, the social media giant disabled a feature that allowed users to search for one another via phone number following revelations that the political firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed information on up to 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.

In December 2019, a Ukrainian security researcher reported finding a database with the names, phone numbers and unique user IDs of more than 267 million Facebook users — nearly all US-based — on the open internet. It is unclear if the current data dump is related to this database.

“This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019," the Menlo Park, California-based company said in a statement. “We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.”

(Also read: Facebook data breach: What happened, were you affected, how to protect yourself)

“This might be just an extension of an earlier incident with Facebook in 2019. The exposed data was based on an API permission that would allow anyone to query a user’s number. So far, the motive of publishing the data online is not clear, as there is no financial incentive in giving out the information for free. However, it is also not a new trend that Check Point is seeing. The main damage is that information about half a billion users has been leaked and is available online including their phone numbers, email addresses and location data," said Sundar N Balasubramanian, Managing Director, Check Point Software Technologies, India & SAARC said.

Balasubramanian also suspects that considering details of users have been leaked, phishing campaigns might also increase in the coming days. He has shared tips on how users can keep their accounts from being hacked. He says users must:

  • Activate Second Factor Authentication on all important applications
  • Share and create awareness with your own family, the leak with Facebook has updated users’ details and it means that phishing campaigns might include messages from people around you which can trick users easily.
  • Check personal messages you are getting on social media and emails for syntax error
  • Don’t access links from messages or emails. If you get emails from service providers, manually access official websites.

With inputs from The Associated Press

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