533 million Facebook users' personal data have been leaked

2 minute read

Personal data of hundreds of millions of Facebook users was published on Saturday in a low-level cybercriminal forum for anyone to access.

The exposed data includes personal information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, including over 32 million records on users in the US, 11 million on users in the UK, and 6 million on users in India. It includes their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and - in some cases - email addresses.

The data was likely scraped due to a vulnerability in Facebook public search feature reported in 2019, and the hacker was spotted selling the data in January 2021, which has now been made public.

Measures to protect your web application from such scraping

  • Do not reveal sensitive personal information like phone numbers/email addresses in unprotected (public) endpoints.
    • Use outgoing data filters to automatically detect and remove/deny responses that contain such information.
  • ‘Lookup people you know’ feature shouldn’t allow looking up by sensitive data like full phone numbers and email addresses; you can ask user to enter only last four digits for example, along with name to show search result. This way the hacker cannot guess the whole phone number, while the ethical user would still find the person she’s looking for.
  • Even for authenticated members, the results of the lookup or people profile pages shouldn’t reveal the sensitive data like phone numbers/email addresses, unless the person in question has herself made such information public.

Religiously follow the Zero Trust security principle, for not just incoming requests, but also for the outgoing data especially when your application has some sort of a social feature.

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Related tags

Breach , Scraping , Authentication , Zero Trust , Social