Monday 4/12/21

1.4 million Finns among victims of Facebook data breach and theft

The data could be used by hackers to impersonate people and commit fraud, cybersecurity experts say.
FILED - Critics have long warned that the automated selection of Facebook's newsfeed leads to so-called filter bubbles. The social media giant is now giving users more controls over how they see content. Photo: Uli Deck/dpa
Data from millions of users of the social media giant have been stolen and leaked. Photo: Uli Deck/dpa.

The telephone numbers and personal data of 533 million Facebook users have been leaked online. And among them are the data of 1.4 million Finns, according to a statement released by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom).

According to Traficom, the data leaked was stolen from Facebook in 2019 and has been published on the Internet in a hacking forum. It includes "at least" phone numbers, email addresses and information entered by the users themselves such as full names, gender, location, and biographical data. 

"Attempts were made to sell the same information in January 2021 through an automated program running on the Telegram messaging service," Traficom says.

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, according to Business Insider.

Cybersecurity concerns

Although already "a couple of years old," the data could be used by hackers to impersonate people and commit fraud, Business Insider said, citing security researchers.

But Lily Shepherd, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a tweet that "This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. We found and fixed this issue in August 2019."

When personal information such as email addresses and phone numbers circulates, the risk increases that people will fall for fake emails because they can be made more authentic.

Facebook says it currently has 2.8 billion users who are active at least once a month.