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March 28, 2023

Hamraznews

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WhatsApp denies data breach report

2 min read


Meta-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp on Monday denied a report on an alleged data leak that said phone numbers of nearly 500 million users from around the world were leaked, including in India.

“The claim written on Cybernews is based on unsubstantiated screenshots. There is no evidence of a ‘data leak’ from WhatsApp,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

On Saturday, CyberNews, a cyber security-focused publication, published a report stating that a threat actor was selling a database containing phone numbers of more than 487 million WhatsApp users. Of this, nearly 6.2 million phone numbers belonged to users in India. Screenshots of the alleged database containing the breached phone numbers did not clarify if the database also included the names and any other details of the users who owned the phone numbers.

Following the report, Jurgita Lapienytė, the chief editor of CyberNews, also tweeted that there was no evidence of a hack. “There’s no evidence WhatsApp has been hacked. The leak might be a scrape, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous for the affected users,” she wrote.

Security experts stated that even without an elaborate set of details, like names or other identification, leaked databases — if confirmed — are often purchased by cyber criminals, who use these phone numbers to initiate scams that may include phishing, identity theft and other related activities.

“Phone number harvesting is a very common practice today, and hackers often find clients such as telemarketers — who purchase such databases to sell their products. Even without a name attached to a number, such databases still find plenty of customers,” said Sandip Kumar Panda, founder and chief executive of Bengaluru-based cyber security firm, InstaSafe Technologies.

However, Panda added that with data breaches becoming commonplace, it is also important to authenticate the veracity of breach-related claims.

“Meta, as a publicly-listed global firm, is bound by compliance to disclose any data breach. Given that they have denied the breach so far, the alleged database is largely speculative, and we have not found any conclusive evidence regarding the leak being authentic,” he said.

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