A database containing up-to-date mobile phone numbers of nearly 500 million WhatsApp users was allegedly leaked and put up for sale. The seller claims they can offer phone numbers of users from 84 countries, which is concerning.
Once this data ends up in untrustworthy hands, fraudsters might launch various types of attacks from spam calls to voice phishing. Privacy risks are another major concern. For a cybercriminal, having a potential victim’s phone number significantly increases the opportunity of a successful attack, since most online services require entering a phone number along with other personal data: name, email address, and sometimes card details. Doxing, cyberbullying, blackmailing and extortion are among potential cyberthreats victims might face.
To stay safe, we advise users:
- Hide your data from everyone except those in your contact list in the WhatsApp privacy settings.
- Be cautious and pay attention to calls and messages from unknown numbers.
- Enable two-factor authentication if it has not already been enabled, so fraudsters won’t be able to use your number for malicious purposes.
- Never open suspicious links sent by anyone as there might be malicious files attached or could directly lead you to fraudulent content.