Over 400 mn Facebook IDs and phone numbers exposed via unsecured server

Facebook said it was investigation how the data became exposed

Until April 2018, people could enter another person's phone number to find him or her on Facebook.

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users' phone numbers were exposed in an open online database, the company confirmed Wednesday, in the latest example of Facebook's past privacy lapses coming back to haunt its users. It estimates that about 200 million Facebook users were impacted.

The server contained records of users from all around the world, including 133 million records on Facebook users in the USA, 50 million on users in Vietnam, and 18 million on people in the UK.

Sanyam Jain, a researcher from GDI Foundation discovered a database on a server that wasn't protected, reported TechCrunch. Each record not only contained the user's phone number, but also included their Facebook ID.

A security researcher found more than 419 million records in several databases that were part of a server that wasn't password protected, TechCrunch reported. At the moment no one knows who owned the database. But Facebook discarded that allegation and said that the number of affected users is almost half of what is being claimed, as much of the database is duplicate information.

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TechCrunch was able to verify several records by matching a known user's phone number to a Facebook user ID or by matching phone numbers with the social media site's password reset feature.

Facebook's characterization of the data as "old" notwithstanding, phone numbers are an increasingly important key to people's identities - and a potential vulnerability.

Although many might consider a mobile phone number public information, they are increasingly being used to get into bank accounts or other personal accounts.

Facebook said that it had "no evidence" that Facebook accounts were compromised and claimed that the phone numbers had been taken from public accounts before the company changed its privacy settings past year.

After the web host was contacted, the Facebook users' database was pulled offline.

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