On late Monday evening, 3rd October, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp users around the globe suffered from 6 hours-long outage of their beloved social media apps. Facebook claims that “faulty configuration change” was the reason for this massive outage. This worldwide shutdown caused a loss of nearly $6 billion for Mark Zuckerberg but, the loss is not the only thing he should be worrying about.
After the outage, several people reported on Twitter that the personal data of 1.5 billion Facebook users had allegedly been put up for sale at hacker forums. These reports were backed up with screenshots of the dark web, which can only be accessed by a particular tool, called Tor. This forum is inaccessible by surface web search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
Reportedly, the screenshot contains an update posted on a popular dark web forum, claiming to have data of more than 1.5 billion users’ info is for sale. Supposedly, this data contains personal information, including real names, phone numbers, genders, locations, user IDs, and email addresses. Furthermore, upon scrutinizing, the data is said to be authentic. The seller also claims to be a representative of a large company that works to scrape Facebook for data that has been operational for four years with a spectrum of over 18,000 clients.
Within a couple of hours of posting, buyers started to line up, and one potential buyer quoted at $5,000 per 1 million Facebook accounts and entire data at $7.5 million. It is also reported and confirmed that Facebook and Instagram have been withdrawn from the global routing system of Domain Name System. Moreover, one of the screenshots of the dark web also confirms that the domain for Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are also on sale.
Internet users are claiming that this data scraping has something to do with the outrage but Privacy Affairs, a privacy6 research company6, beg to differ. It posted a notification 12 hours before the outage, about data selling on the dark web. Lastly, nowadays, data is as significant as diamonds, and people are more than happy to buy it, so it would not be wrong to say that every internet user should be on the lookout, especially in times like this.
Written by: Sabeen Khalid
Reported by: Ehtisham Majeed