FG Issues Advisory Steps on WhatsApp Usage As Hackers Allegedly Steal and Sell Data of 9 Million Nigerians
- The Federal government has issued an advisory to Nigerians on the use of WhatsApp
- The advisory follows reports that data and phone numbers of several WhatsApp users were leaked and sold on the dark web.
- Over 9 million Nigerians' data were identified by National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA to be hacked
The National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, an agency under the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, has asked Nigerians to be careful when using WhatsApp.
According to NITDA, a reported data breach has exposed the information of millions of users worldwide, including Nigerians.
The advice was issued by Hadiza Umar, Head, of Corporate Affairs and External Relations of the agency gave the warning in a statement issued in Abuja, the Cable reports.
WhatsApp data breach report
On Nov. 16, an actor posted an advert on a popular hacking community platform claiming they were selling a 2022 database of 487 million WhatsApp user mobile numbers.
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The database was alleged to contain WhatsApp user data from 84 countries, with over 32 million US user records included.
The post also said that the most phone contacts belonged to citizens of Egypt with 45 million, Italy with 35 million, Saudi Arabia with 29 million, France with 20 million and Turkey with 20 million.
The dataset for the US (3.2 crore users) was reportedly being sold for $7,000, for the UK (1.1 crore users), they had priced $2,500; and for Germany (around 60 lakh users) for $2,000.
NITDA advice to Nigerians on Whatsapp usage
Reacting to the aforementioned data breach, Umar revealed that the alleged leak involved nine million contacts from Nigeria.
"Nearly 500 million WhatsApp users’ mobile phone numbers globally, including over nine million contacts from Nigeria.
“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 perpetrate cyber attacks such as smishing and vishing"
She further added that smishing involves sending unsuspecting users text messages and asking them to click on links or provide personal information which can be used to scam victims and launch attacks.
“Vishing entails the use of phone calls, and voice messages by cyber criminals to manipulate or device unsuspecting recipients into revealing sensitive information for fraudulent acts.
“In this regard, NITDA’s Computer Readiness and Response 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.
“Do not reveal personal information on your profile and do not respond to requests from untrusted or unknown contacts asking for personal data, passwords or other verification code through messages or calls.’’
Umar further urged the public to contact CERRT.ng on email@example.com or call +234 817 877 4580 for more enquiries.
In a response to DH, the Meta-owned messaging app said that CyberNews had no substantial evidence to prove the user data it had shown was taken from WhatsApp.
There is no official report on bad actors misusing the leaked user data.
With email IDs and phone numbers, hackers use phishing techniques to prey on naive users.
We advise all readers who are active online always to exercise caution whenever they receive any messages or threats via email or SMS.
Are you moving from Android to iPhone or vice versa? this is how to move your WhatsApp data
Meanwhile, Legit.ng in another report revealed that WhatsApp has a new way to transfer your chat history from Android to iOS and vice versa.
If you’re changing your Android phone to iPhone, your account information, such as profile photo, individual and group chats, history media and settings, can be transferred.
According to WhatsApp, transferred data doesn’t go to cloud storage due to the migration until one creates an iCloud backup.