More than 9 million WhatsApp users in Nigeria and nearly 500 million WhatsApp users globally are said to be exposed to hackers who trade users’ data in the dark web.
This was revealed in a statement released by the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, refrencing a report on WhatsApp data breach which it said has exposed the information of millions of users worldwide including Nigerians.
The statement issued by Hadiza Umar, Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations of NITDA in Abuja on Wednesday contained the following issues:
” Nearly 500 million WhatsApp users’ mobile phone numbers globally, including over 9 million contacts from Nigeria are affected.
“There is an impending danger of threat actors using these data to carry out malicious activities, thereby putting many at risk.
“Such information could be used to perpetuate cyber attacks such as smishing and vishing” she said.
Umar described smashing as involving sending text messages to unsuspecting users and asking them to click on links or provide personal information that can be used to scam victims and launch attacks, and vishing on the other hand as involving the use of phone calls or voice messages by cyber criminals to manipulate unsuspecting recipients into revealing sensitive information for fraudulent activities.
The statement further reads: “In this regard, NITDA’s computer Readiness and Responsive Team (NITDA–CERRT) is alerting the public, most especially instant messaging platform users to be wary of unsolicited calls, voice notes and messages from unknown numbers.
“To avoid being victims, users are to enable two-factor authentication on your instant messaging app.”
Users are advised to be wary of sharing sensitive information online or on their instant messaging apps and avoid responding to request for personal data from unknown individuals through calls or text messages.
“Do not reveal personal information on your profile and do not respond to request from untrusted or unknown contacts asking fro personal data, passwords or other verification codes through messages or calls.”
According to the WhatsApp data breach report cited by Legitng, an ads was said to be published on a popular hacking community platform on November 16, claiming a 2022 database of 487million WhatsApp users mobile numbers was up for sale. The ads parades WhatsApp users data from 84 countries with over 32 million users from the United States, 45 million Egyptian contacts, 35million Italian contacts, 29million Arabs contacts, 25million French and 20million Turkish contacts.
In this previous article, WhatsApp parent company, Meta, was reported to have said thousands of its users worldwide have been persistently spied upon and hounded by cybersecurity espionage groups from the middle east using malwares masquerading as popular secure social media and messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Instagram etc.