A hacker has managed to crack the phone numbers and WhatsApp accounts of 478 million users around the world, with some Moroccan media speculating that the kingdom could be a target for a huge scam affecting millions of Moroccans.
The leak was originally reported by technology news site CyberNews, which said it had “investigated” a sample of the data set provided by the hacker. According to the news site, it was able to verify that 1,914 phone numbers provided by the malicious party did indeed belong to WhatsApp users, meaning the hacker’s claims were “likely…to be true”, it reported.
According to the hacker him/herself, among the 487 million records are the details for 32 million US users, 11 million UK users and six million German users. CyberNews reported that the hacker had told them that they were selling each of these data sets for US$7,000, $2,500 and $2,000 respectively.
According to Hespress, a state-friendly Moroccan website based in Rabat, 19 million numbers could be Moroccan but the site didn’t explain how it came to this figure, which is probably inflated.
This news comes just days after it was reported that WhatsApp’s parent company, Meta, had allegedly fired employees for breaking Facebook’s terms of service by hacking into user’s accounts.
These phone numbers relate to 84 countries, announced the hackers on the darkweb, exposing his exploit. These databases are very recent, from 2022 he claims, and ensures that the numbers are active.
If the hacker succeeds in selling the data to third parties, users may be victims of phishing attacks or receive spam advertisements .
Disclosed phone numbers could be subject to other more serious repercussions, such as phishing, identity theft or fraud.
According to Hespress, Morocco is the 7th country out of the 84 victims of hacking in terms of number of numbers hacked. The country with the most hacked accounts is Egypt with nearly 45 million users, followed by Italy with more than 35 million, and the United States in third place with a total of 32 million numbers.
The next countries in the top ranking are respectively Saudi Arabia, France and Turkey.
WhatsApp is said to have more than two billion monthly active users worldwide, but has not commented on the matter. However, this is not the first time that the social network has been hacked in the same style, although industry insiders are speculating that it could be a disgruntled former employee.