San Francisco, Nov 27 (IANS): WhatsApp phone numbers of 487 million users have been stolen and put on sale on a "well-known" hacking community forum, the media reported.
According to Cybernews, the dataset allegedly contains WhatsApp user data from 84 countries and phone numbers of over 32 million users from the US, 11 million from the UK, and 10 million from Russia.
The hacker claims to have a significant number of phone numbers belonging to the citizens of Egypt (45 million), Italy (35 million), Saudi Arabia (29 million), France (20 million), and Turkey (20 million).
The hacker was selling the US dataset for $7,000, the UK for $2,500, and Germany for $2,000, according to the report.
Cybernews researchers were able to get in touch with the hacker and also able to collect a sample of the data in which they found out that the shared sample contained 1,097 UK and 817 US user numbers.
Upon investigation, the researchers found that all of them were active WhatsApp users.
However, the hacker did not specify how they obtained the data, suggesting they "used their strategy," and that all the numbers belong to WhatsApp users, said the report.
This database can be used by hackers for spamming, phishing attempts, identity theft, and other cybercriminal activities.
WhatsApp provides numerous privacy settings, such as hiding status and profile pictures, that users can enable to protect themselves from prying eyes.