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WhatsApp Data Leaks Means WhatsApp Users Be On The Lookout For Smishing And Vishing

Published: December 19, 2022 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.

Well, folks, WhatsApp has done it again and not in a good way. It’s made the hacking news. Yet another theft of users’ information occurred and it involved WhatsApp users all around the globe. Information about nearly 500 million owners of mobile numbers were advertised for sale, on November 16, 2022, via an ad that was placed on a hacking forum. It offered those who desired it, the opportunity to purchase a database, at a bargain basement price, with those mobile numbers from a WhatsApp database. This includes information from people in more than 90 countries; 32 million of them from users in the U.S.

And in case you are skeptical about it, in order to prove authenticity, they shared snippets of the data set with Cybernews. It was verified that these contact numbers did belong to WhatsApp users.

If you are a WhatsApp user, the best plan of action is to be on the lookout for phishing via text and voice messages (smishing and vishing, respectively). Now that your number may be in the hands of hackers, it’s very important that you learn how to recognize these attempts. Often, you will receive some type of text that claims you’ve won a prize and to claim it, just click the link. Don’t. Other messages are a claim that someone paid your mobile phone bill and because you are up to date, you won a gift card. Yes, all you need to do is click a link. Don’t do that either.

For vishing, the scams come in all kinds of ways; tech support scams, the classic Nigerian 911 where someone is in trouble and supposedly needs your financial help, or even requests for donations. After all, during the holidays, these calls tend to be in abundance.

Remember never to give up your personal information, especially your payment card information to anyone that requests it in an unsolicited email or phone call. It’s OK to donate to charity, but go to the website independently of any unsolicited request. If someone claims any bill was paid on your behalf, go to your account separately and check. If in doubt, pick up the phone and call. Again, using a phone number you found on your own and not one that was provided to you in a message.

WhatsApp is quite popular. In fact, it is estimated to have over 2 billion active users in a month, which is why any breach involving it makes the news. And there have certainly been a few of those.

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