An Indian origin security researcher and member of GDI Foundation, an Hague-based non-profit organization, has detected a massive database containing phone numbers of more than 419 million Facebook users on an unsecured server which can be accessed by anyone.
Sanyam Jain found that the database included 133 million records Facebook users based in the United States, over 50 million records of users in Vietnam, and 18 million records of the United Kingdom users.
He also found profiles with phone numbers associated with a number of celebrities.
According to the TechCrunch report, the millions of users’ phone numbers were exposed from their Facebook IDs. As a result, the users’ were put at the risk of spam calls, SIM-swapping or SIM jacking where a mobile number is transferred to a new SIM card.
"Jain... found the database and contacted TechCrunch after he was unable to find the owner. After a review of the data, neither could we. But after we contacted the web host, the database was pulled offline," said the report.
He also found some of the records had the user's name, gender, and location by country.
"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," a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Engadget.
However, the Facebook users’ database was pulled offline after the web host was contacted.
There have been a handful of incidents after the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal where it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had gathered the personal data of 87 million peoples’ Facebook profiles and used it for political advertising purposes in early 2018.
By Sowmya Sangam