Personal data of 533 million Facebook users including contact number of CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been leaked on April 3, in a massive online hack. The database was accessible to those with basic data skills and was posted to a hacker forum.
Facebook stated that the data was 'very old'. The social media platform stated that this was an old leak from August 2019 and that the problem was fixed soon after it was leaked. However, the Dailymail reported that journalists have said that they were able to match known phone numbers to database.
The matter has been taken seriously by security experts as CEO himself was victimized in the hack. Reports claim that the information made available on April 3 was stolen in January 2021. The hackers had collected phone numbers associated with Facebook accounts and had created a database of private data.
FB Users' Data from 106 Countries Exposed?
In fact, not only the phone number but also Zuckerberg's name, location and marriage information, date of birth and Facebook user ID were leaked. Reacting on the matter, security expert Dave Walker tweeted: "Regarding the #FacebookLeak, of the 533M people in the leak – the irony is that Mark Zuckerberg is regrettably included in the leak as well. If journalists are struggling to get a statement from @facebook, maybe just give him a call, from the tel in the leak?"
The numbers and personal information of Facebook co-founders Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz also have been leaked by the hackers. The stolen database has been made accessible for free.
The news of leaking of the data was first reported by Business Insider. The report claimed that hacked database has information of Facebook users from 106 countries including their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, and email addresses.
FB Data Leaks in 2018, 2019
This is not the first time data from Facebook was leaked. The social media platform faced similar issues in 2018 too. Since then, the company has assured of taking strict measures to protect the personal information of its users. Accordingly, in 2018, it disabled a feature of searching for a person with the use of phone number. The decision was taken after the news of Cambridge Analytica accessing the phone numbers of 87 million FB users became public.
In a similar case in 2019, an Ukrainian security researcher had said that he had found a database with personal IDs including phone numbers of 267 million FB users. But the problem is said to have fixed completely in 2019 after disabling the search through phone number feature.
In 2019, at least 419 million personal records – 133 M from US, 50 M from Vietnam, 18 M from Britain – were left in an open server not protected by any password. The data also included information, contact numbers of celebrities. To deal with this in 2019, Zuckerberg promised to rebuild security system based on privacy-focused principles. However, the authenticity of the currently leaked database has not been confirmed yet.