Scare as personal data of 1.5bn Facebook users is found for sale on a hacker forum

A smartphone user shows the Facebook newsfeed on his phone.

Technology giant, Facebook Inc has been through a lot recently. The company experienced a global service outage that kept its social media platforms -WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger and the other products in its ecosystem including Oculus- offline for most of the day.

In addition to the testimony from a whistleblower which could put the company on the legal hot seat, it has come out that personal data from more than 1.5 billion Facebook users were found for sale on a hacker forum.

Privacy Affairs, a privacy research company reports that users’ personal data has been placed for sale on a Hacker forum. The data for sale was not obtained by any data breach but was allegedly obtained by scraping publicly available data shared by Facebook users.

Over 1.5 billion Facebook user’s personal data found for sale on a hacker forum

Scraping is a method where bots obtain publicly shared data such as full names, email, phone number, location, gender etc. by filing quizzes and tests.

While the data obtained was already public, it can still be used to compromise user security. It could aid the attacker in password challenge answers, allow them to intercept one-time login codes, phish emails and send scam text messages.

‘’Every time someone enters one of these surveys or quizzes, they permit the creators of these games to view their Personal Facebook information and more” said Privacy Affairs founder and CEO, Miklos Zoltan. It is a dangerously simple way to compromise privacy

Over 1.5 billion Facebook user’s personal data found for sale on a hacker forum

The data exposed in this leak, if authentic “may constitute one of the biggest and most significant Facebook data dumps to date’’ said Privacy Affairs founder and CEO, Miklos Zoltan.

But, the potential for this particular set of data to be exploited has been reduced because the post has been taken down, with a Facebook spokesperson saying the company sent a takedown request however it is still unknown if it could end up posted elsewhere.

How to avoid being a victim

Scraping requires that data be available, Facebook users should ensure they never set their profiles to be public. It’s also good to understand Facebook privacy checkups to be sure there is no bit of personal data being ignored.

In addition, it is important to desist from taking Facebook quizzes or granting app permissions requesting personal information. Only use surveys and quizzes from reliable sources.

If your data has been already scraped, it may be too late however you can lock your account now to prevent future Information from being stolen.

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