It seems that Facebook’s data privacy issues won’t ever end. Security researcher Alon Gal has recently revealed that the personal information belonging to around 533 million Facebook users has been leaked online.
The massive dataset is currently being shared on various underground hacking forums for free, and it affects users from 106 countries including every country in the MENA region. At 32 million records, US Facebook users represent the greatest chunk of the dataset, followed by 11 million users from the UK, and 6 million users from India.
Besides user’s full names, the leak includes their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, locations, birthdates, bios, and sometimes even email addresses.
“So what’s the impact? For a targeted attack where you know someone’s name and country, it’s great for mobile phone lookup,” explains Troy Hunt, the creator of the Have I Been Pwned database. “But for spam based on using phone number alone, it’s gold. Not just SMS, there are heaps of services that just require a phone number these days, and now there’s hundreds of millions of them conveniently categorized by country with nice mail merge fields like name and gender.”
The stolen information actually comes from 2019, and cybercriminals had access to it for quite some time now through a Telegram bot, which makes it possible to look up a phone number and receive the corresponding user’s Facebook ID, and the other way around — all for a small fee.
“This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. We found and fixed this issue in August 2019,” said Liz Bourgeois, Facebook’s director of strategic response communications, in a Saturday tweet.
Old or not, the fact that the personal information of half a billion Facebook users is circulating around on the internet for free is the least the social media giant and its users need right now considering the number of new cybersecurity threats created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, Facebook will take the steps necessary to minimize the impact of the breach and protect its users.
To find out whether or not your Facebook account data was among the leak, go to HaveIBeenPwned.com and enter the email address you use to login to Facebook with. If your email address is detected within the millions of accounts, HaveIBeenPwned will let you know.
Stripe Enters The Middle East With Its UAE Launch
Stripe will initially only be available to UAE businesses, allowing them to accept online payments, make payouts, mitigate fraud, and attract customers from around the world.
Stripe, a provider of online payment processing for internet business, has finally expanded to the Middle East with its official launch in the United Arab Emirates. The Irish-American company also opened an office in Dubai Internet City, allowing it to be closer to its new customer base.
At first, Stripe will only be available to UAE businesses, allowing them to accept online payments, make payouts, mitigate fraud, and attract customers from around the world.
“The UAE is a thriving hub for technology, supported by strong investor appetite, internet-savvy consumers, and an open, innovative ecosystem of business leaders and entrepreneurs,” said Matt Henderson, EMEA Business Lead at Stripe. “Our launch today also means we can now connect our global user base to the Gulf, enabling them to seamlessly expand their operations in the region.”
Stripe’s entry into the Middle East market comes just weeks after its latest round of funding, which has resulted in the company’s value jumping up to $95 billion and making it one of the most valuable fintech companies in the world.
The UAE is the perfect entry point for the online payment processing provider because the total value of digital payment transactions in the gulf country has doubled in the last two years alone, reaching $18.5 billion in 2020. If the UAE remains on the current growth trajectory, its e-commerce sector is expected to add nearly another $10 billion over the next two years.
Another factor that makes the UAE such an ideal expansion point is the fact that accepting online payments in the country has historically been incredibly challenging. Stripe provides a straightforward setup process and developer-friendly APIs, making it easy for companies of all sizes to improve their online presence.
Last year, Stripe launched in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Malta. The company also expanded into Africa via Nigeria technology startup Paystack. In total, Stripe currently processes hundreds of billions of dollars each year.