A new report claims that the personal information of 1.5 billion Facebook users has been put on sale through web scraping. A member of a hacking forum talked about possessing the information late last month, as per Privacy Affairs.
One user reportedly got a quote of $5,000 for the information belonging to 1 million people. The person in possession of the information said that available data includes names, user IDs, email addresses, gender, phone number, and location.
The report also verified some of the samples bought by others, while some said they hadn’t received the personal data despite paying the original poster. This led to speculation that the hacker was engaging in a large-scale scam or that the holder could not send the data due to some other constraints.
This is unrelated to the outage faced by WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook on Monday
The sellers accessed the data by scraping through publicly available information rather than hacking. Scraping refers to the process of extracting web data and organizing them into databases and lists.
What this also means is that no individual Facebook accounts are currently at risk. However, it could prove dangerous if the data falls into the wrong hands, including cybercriminals or internet marketers. The latter group can use the data to hit individuals with targeted advertising.
The hacker previously said that the personal information was gathered with the help of a four-year-old data scraping business. The individual reportedly led this data scraping operation which had over 18,000 clients.
Facebook is yet to comment on the matter. It is still coming to grips with the temporary outage of the Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram apps.
It’s worth mentioning that this leak has nothing to do with the service outage on the three apps. This is merely an unfortunate coincidence, while some are desperately trying to find a connection between the two events. The data leak report came roughly 12 hours before the outage of Facebook’s apps.
This isn’t the first time that Facebook is experiencing data leak concerns. In April this year, data of around 533 million users from 106 countries was the subject of a similar leak. These two episodes serve as a reminder that setting your profile to “Public” has dangerous consequences.