Facebook has come under the cross-hairs for data leaks and breaches before. The company has now suffered yet another data leak. This time, the leak has compromised the details of over 267 million Facebook user’s IDs, phone numbers and names. The leaked details could be misused for mass spam and phishing campaigns.

Bob Diachenko, a security researcher uncovered the database according to Comparitech. According to him, the database was apparently uploaded as a single file. First indexed on December 4, it is still unavailable as of December 19. According to Comparitech, the entire database file was downloadable on a hacker forum. The site has since been taken down.

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The data breached mostly affects people residing in the USA. The data consists of the Facebook IDs, phone numbers and full names of these people. The cause of the data breach was most likely a hole in Facebook’s API or illegal scraping, according to Diachenko. Facebook is against scraping. But is easy to execute, especially if the users have publicly accessible profiles.

Hence, Facebook users are safer if their profile accessibility is limited to only their friends. It is also a good idea to put a ‘No’ on the “Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?” question. This makes a data leak very less likely A Facebook user must also be careful of suspicious messages, added Diachenko.

Not Facebook’s first data leak this year

Facebook has been facing perhaps the worst year when it comes to privacy mishaps. Certain Facebook and Twitter’s users had their private data leaked just last month. In the same month, thousands of members of Facebook groups had their private data compromised. Even before that, the Facebook data including IDs and phone numbers with those accounts were leaked in an online database. This happened in September and affected millions of users. Some of these records even had the user names, genders and locations of the affected users exposed.

How to stay safe?

A good practice to stay safe despite the countless hacks and data leaks is to frequently change your password. Unique passwords for various online platforms are key to building a strong privacy barrier around our data. Passwords made up of names, birth dates, anniversary dates, etc are the easiest to crack down on for hackers. Use strong and random passwords and regularly change them for staying safe online.

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