Updated: September 5, 2019 9:42:32 am
Hundreds of millions of phone numbers that are linked to the accounts of Facebook users have been found in an online database. According to a report by Techcrunch, an unprotected server containing more than 419 million records over several databases on Facebook users across the world were found.
Out of this, around 133 million records were those of the US-based Facebook users, 18 million records were of the users based in the UK, and another with over 50 million records of the Facebook users based in Vietnam. The server was not password-protected so anyone could access the database to find information.
Since April 2018, Facebook has restricted access to its user’s phone numbers weeks after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. Prior to that, users could find each other on the social media platform by entering the other person’s phone number on Facebook, the report said.
Facebook had closed this service after it found that ‘malicious actors’ had abused it to fetch public information about Facebook users, which is known to be a process called scraping.
“Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way,” Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer had written in a blog.
According to a report by CNN, a Facebook spokesperson has confirmed that the security researcher reported to Facebook about the database and the social media giant has launched an investigation. The spokesperson added that the database has many duplicate entries and Facebook estimates the number of users impacted is about half of what TechCrunch reported.
“This dataset is old and appears to have information obtained before we made changes last year to remove people’s ability to find others using their phone numbers,” the spokesperson told CNN. “The dataset has been taken down and we have seen no evidence that Facebook accounts were compromised.
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