WhatsApp (Photo: ShutterStock)
A database that includes the phone numbers of about 500 million WhatsApp users has been offered for sale online in recent days - according to the Cybernews website.
The information was uploaded to a well-known hacker forum by an anonymous user, under the title "Hello, today I am offering for sale the WhatsApp database from 2022".
As we know, the messaging app has about 2 billion users, so it is about a quarter of the users' details.
The dataset allegedly contains user data from 84 countries - with more than 32 million user records in the US. Another huge chunk of phone numbers belong to citizens of Egypt (45 million), Italy (35 million), Saudi Arabia (29 million), France (20 million) and Turkey (20 million).The database for sale also allegedly has almost 10 million Russian users and more than 11 million phone numbers of UK citizens.
However, as it seems at first glance, this is an attempt to "scrape information", and not something to really be afraid of.
"It's about trying to check which of the numbers has a WhatsApp account or not (building a database)," says Tom Malka, a cyber threat intelligence researcher, in a conversation with Walla!
"It does not appear at the moment that this is a leak of information that endangers WhatsApp users, and just for the sake of clarification, Israel is not part of the database."
"It's important to remember that even though it's not a leak or a hack, the potential for damage definitely exists," added May Brooks-Kempler, a cyber expert and founder of the "Safe Online" community on Facebook.
"Ultimately, no matter where the database comes from, WhatsApp users should be aware that their number may be exposed and not be tempted to interact with unknown parties."
The seller did not specify how it obtained the database, stressing that they "used their own strategy" to collect the data, assuring Cybernews that all the numbers happened to belong to active WhatsApp users.
privacy and security