Data leak on Whatsapp in Italy, how to defend yourself

In our country alone, 35 million telephone numbers were recently stolen

A few days ago Whatsapp was involved in yet another data breach episode, with hackers trying to sell hundreds of millions of stolen contacts to users. Italy was involved with 35 million phone numbers. According to an analysis by Check Point Research (CPR), the Threat Intelligence division of Check Point Software, the breach exposed 360 million numbers in 108 countries. CPR analyzed WhatsApp files on the darkweb and found millions of recordings available for purchase. Each country has a different number of records on display, ranging from 604 from Bosnia and Herzegovina to 35 million attributed to Italy. Over the past four days, the files, which include international dialing codes and were originally offered for sale, are now being distributed freely among hackers.

CPR said: “While the information being sold is only active phone numbers and not the content of the messages themselves, this is a massive, large-scale breach. An immediate consequence is the possibility of these numbers being used as part of phishing attacks through the app itself. We urge all WhatsApp users to pay close attention to the messages they receive and also when they have to click on links and messages shared on the app.” Once hackers gain access to phone numbers which are then resold they are likely to be used to carry out attacks such as vishing or smshing. Vishing is a form of social engineering where the victim is tricked into providing information over the phone, during a call, while the smshing is conducted via SMS. It is also possible for hackers to access other online services using your phone number, with even more damaging consequences.