Facebook leaves millions of users’ phone numbers exposed online

In another data privacy mishap with the largest social media platform in the world, millions of phone numbers have been exposed online for everyone to see.

According to a report published by TechCrunch Facebook’s exposed server holds over 419 million data records from several databases across the globe. Out of the aforementioned number, 133 million are from the United States, 18 million from the United Kingdom and 50 million from Vietnam. Which means if you are located in the said countries and your cellphone number is linked to your Facebook account, there’s a good chance it’s already out there. Otherwise, you still aren’t safe. The rest of what makes the 419 million wasn’t included in the recent report.

The server isn’t password protected and anyone who’s interested has access to the exposed database.

So what do the records hold? Each one has a unique Facebook ID and the phone number associated with the account. Some entries included the user’s name, country of origin and gender.

The exposed data makes its owners vulnerable to spam calls and hacking through SIM-swapping attacks. Perpetrators are able to force-reset all account passwords through phone numbers. This includes those outside Facebook as long as it’s associated with the number.

A spokesperson for the social network giant said the exposed data have been scraped prior to Facebook cutting off access to phone numbers of its users. Speaking to TechCrunch Jay Nancarrow says:

“This data set 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 data set has been taken down and we have seen no evidence that Facebook accounts were compromised.”

Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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