Claims Facebook was hacked surface online after 1.5bn users’ data ‘sold on web’ | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack


Data privacy experts claim a member of a hackers’ forum boasted of possessing sensitive Facebook user data, with the allegations surfacing amid a global outage which was unrelated

A user on a hackers’ forum was selling Facebook users’ data, it is claimed

Claims that Facebook was hacked surfaced online amid allegations the personal data of 1.5 billion users appeared for sale on a forum.

Data privacy experts claim a user of the hackers’ forum posted an announcement claiming to possess a trove of sensitive user data including names and email addresses.

The allegations emerged coincidently with a global outage of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, though there was nothing to suggest a link.

Facebook has apologised for the outage, as the exact cause remained unclear.

Tens of thousands of people across the world were left without access to their favourite social channels as the apps malfunctioned for more than seven hours.



Mark Zuckerberg’s social giant Facebook – which owns Instagram and WhatsApp – was impacted for several hours during an outage
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)





The outage came as claims appeared online that a user on the hackers’ forum claimed that the data of 1.5 billion users was up for sale, according to the website PrivacyAffairs.

One prospective buyer is said to have quoted £3,700 for the data of one million Facebook user accounts, which would have included the users’ name, email, location, gender, phone number and user ID.

Meanwhile, the exact cause of the Facebook outage remained unclear.

In a statement posted to Twitter at 11.31pm, Facebook Engineering confirmed the platforms were coming back online and thanked its millions of users around the world “for bearing with us”.









“To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry,” the statement said.

“We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.”

Jake Moore, the former head of digital forensics at Dorset Police and now cybersecurity specialist at global cybersecurity firm ESET, told the Independent: “Outages are increasing in volume and can often point towards a cyber-attack, but this can add to the confusion early on when we are diagnosing the causes.

“As we saw with Fastly in the summer, web-blackouts are more often originate from undiscovered software bug or even human error.

“Although these are increasing in frequency and require more failsafes in place, predicting these issues is increasingly more difficult as it was never thought possible before”.



Facebook down as Instagram and WhatsApp users also complain of nightmare crashes
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Image:

downdetector.co.uk)





None of the platforms have reported being hacked, however rumours have been circulating with one person mockingly placing the site up for sale for $1billion.

More than 14 million reports worldwide relating to Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were made , according to Downdetector, which monitors the status of some of the most-heavily visited websites in the world.

The outage started at about 4pm UK time, with Downdetector receiving 75,600 reports relating to WhatsApp and a peak of 58,000 reports relating to Facebook and 30,800 reports relating to Instagram.

A total of 43% of users experienced issues with the app, with 27% being unable to send messages.



A spoof ad putting up Facebook domain name for sale is being shared




Technology outages are not uncommon but for it to happen to so many apps from the world’s largest social media company at the same time was highly unusual, the New York Times reports.

In March 2019, Facebook and Instagram were disrupted for more than 14 hours. This latest outage is unlikely to be work of cyberattackers because a hack does not affect so many apps at once, the paper quoted two Facebook employees as saying.

Thee problem is more likely to be related to Facebook’s server computers, security experts said, which were not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Courtney Nash, senior research analyst at security company Verica, said it was unlikely Facebook was affected by an external hack but that it would be difficult to say without confirmation from Facebook.

“Was it malicious? I don’t know, I can’t say,” she said.







Facebook’s CTO Mark Schroepfer tweeted the company’s “sincere apologies” for the outage as he said they were experiencing “networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible”.

In a statement on Twitter announcing its return, Facebook said: “To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry.

“We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.”





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