A database seller claims that they are in possession of around 1.5 billion WhatsApp numbers from 98 countries all over the world. As noted in two separate listings at a well-known database marketplace forum, the seller claimed that around 21.4 million WhatsApp numbers originated from Malaysia.
First highlighted by Cybernews, the report only mentioned the listing from 16 November. When we dived into the marketplace forum itself, we noticed there was another recent listing from the same seller earlier this week dated 25 November:
It is not known how many of these numbers overlapped with each other though but nevertheless, we are looking at a total of around 1.5 billion WhatsApp numbers from both listings. Out of that number, around 21.5 million apparently came from Malaysia.
The seller has noted that these data sets contained only WhatsApp numbers which have been divided according to respective countries. Before you panic and wonder if there is another massive data leak happening somewhere in Malaysia (well, there was one recently but that’s another story altogether), stay calm.
The data contained within both listings were gathered through a method called data scraping based on the titles of both listings. For those who are not familiar with the term, this particular technique generally involved sweeping data that is already out in the open and doesn’t usually come from an actual data breach.
This technique gained massive attention last April after it was used to obtain personal data from more than 530 million Facebook users which were then put on sale on the predecessor to the marketplace forum that we mentioned earlier. In fact, some of the forum users suspected that these numbers came from that very leak but the seller claimed otherwise.
Even though these listings contained just WhatsApp numbers, they can still potentially be used by irresponsible parties to deliver spam messages. Hence, always stay vigilant and be extra careful when you receive a WhatsApp message from unknown numbers.
[Thanks for the tips, @jeewang85!]