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Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has warned users of an upcoming wave of phishing scams as hackers sell updated mobile phone numbers of nearly 500 million WhatsApp users.
In a tweet on Sunday, Zhao, who goes by CZ on Twitter, said that more than 487 million WhatsApp phone numbers are for sale on the dark web. He claimed that the numbers are legitimate and that users could be set up to receive phishing links and scam messages.
“A new set of 487 million WhatsApp phone numbers for dark web sales. A sample indicates that the phone numbers are legitimate. Be vigilant as later threat actors will use this data to run scam campaigns. smishing (phishing messages),” he said. .
According to a report by Cybernews, a hacker posted the numbers on a well-known hacker community forum on November 16, claiming it was an up-to-date database of 487 million mobile phone numbers of WhatsApp users.
The dataset is said to contain WhatsApp user numbers from 84 countries. Most of the phone numbers belong to Egyptian (45 million), Italian (35 million), American (32 million), Saudi (29 million), French (20 million) and Turkish (20 million) citizens.
The threat actor reportedly told Cybernews that he was selling the US data set for €7,000, the UK for €2,500, and Germany for €2,000. The media also claimed that the seller shared sample data with them and they were able to confirm the validity of the numbers.
WhatsApp has more than 2 billion monthly active users around the world. The messaging app is ranked among the most popular mobile messaging apps in the world.
Massive WhatsApp data leak
While the hacker did not specify how he obtained the database, suggesting that he "used his strategy" to collect the data, Cybernews speculated that the information could have been obtained by large-scale data harvesting, also known as scraping.
Scraping is the use of an automated tool to collect and harvest information on a large scale for unauthorized purposes, according to WhatsApp. Scrapers can attempt to find and log user information, including phone numbers, user profile pictures, and WhatsApp platform statuses.
Notably, this is not the only massive data leak related to WhatsApp or other Meta companies. In April 2021, the personal information of 533 million Facebook users around the world resurfaced on a hacker website.
Experts have long criticized Meta for allowing third parties to obtain or collect user data.