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.
Matchmaking App Hawaya Lets Users Connect Based On Lifestyle Choices
Hawaya currently operates in 12 new countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Germany, UK, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United States, and Canada.
Finding love is not easy, especially for singles in the Middle East, where conservative cultural norms don’t approve of any but the most traditional forms of matchmaking, which don’t seem all that appealing to many members of younger generations. But it’s not like young men and women in the Middle East are without modern options when it comes to finding the partner of their dreams. Hawaya, a Cairo-born matchmaking app, has recently celebrated 4 million users, and it’s now rolling out a feature that has the potential to expand its userbase even further: the ability to connect based on lifestyle choices with people from other regions.
Hawaya currently operates in 12 new countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Germany, UK, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United States of America, and Canada. So far, it has resulted in 18,000 commitments, with 5,000 in Egypt alone.
“We’re seeing singles all over the region, women in particular, trusting in Hawaya to find their life partner more than ever before, which displays greater social acceptance for mobile matchmaking as an empowering tool for women to find their ideal life partner,” said Shaymaa Ali, Hawaya’s co-founder and Marketing Manager in the MENA region.
The new “Lifestyle Preferences” feature allows users to find their other half based on shared interests, likes, and dislikes. Users can now specify the geographic area they would like to explore, instead of always receiving matches that are located as close to them as possible.
“Through innovation, tech, and cultural respect, Hawaya prides itself to be a progressive app that aims to destigmatize the taboo of online matchmaking, and empowering women to take their time and spark a real connection with the love of their lives,” added Sameh Saleh, Hawaya’s founder and CEO.
Since the 2017 launch of Hawaya, social acceptance of online matchmaking in the MENA region has seen a measurable improvement, but there’s still a long way to go before all users of matchmaking apps like Hawaya won’t feel the need to hide their identities.