Facebook sues programmer who collected data of 178 million users

Facebook has sued a Ukrainian citizen for allegedly hiding his website and selling personal data of more than 178 million users on a secret cybercrime forum.

according to for documents In court, the man was identified as Alexander Aleksandrovich Solonchenko, a resident of Kirovograd, Ukraine.

The company alleges that Solonchenko misused a privileged part of its Messenger service called importing contacts.

This feature allowed users to sync their phone’s address books and see which contacts have an account via Facebook to allow users to communicate with their friends via Messenger.

“Between January 2018 and September 2019, Solonchenko used an automated Android virtualization tool to supply the company’s servers with millions of random phone numbers,” the company said.

Because the company’s servers returned information containing phone numbers with an account through the site, Solonchenko collected the data.

In December 2020, this data was offered for sale via RaidForums, a cybercrime forum and marketplace for stolen data.

The company said: Solonchenko has sold the data of hundreds of millions of users from multiple companies through the forum.

She added: Since 2020, Solonchenko has sold stolen data from the largest commercial bank in Ukraine and the largest private delivery service in Ukraine A French data analytics company.

Facebook was able to connect Solonchenko to a RaidForums user after the defendant used the same username and contact methods via job portals and email accounts.

Read also: Facebook wants to expose intellectual property violations

The programmer sold user information on the black market

Solonchenko worked as a freelance computer programmer and has experience automating tasks on Android simulators, conducting affiliate marketing andWork with many programming languages ​​including Python, PHP and Xrumer, a program used to send spam.

In June 2019, Solonchenko also sold shoes online under the brand name Drop Top.

The social network is now asking the judge to issue injunctions preventing Solonchenko from accessing its sites. It is selling more of its leaked data. The social network also wants unspecified compensation.

The Solunchenko incident is the second Facebook data collection process using the contact import feature and then shared via RaidForums.

In April 2021, another person leaked the phone numbers of 533 million Facebook users. The company said the data was collected by misusing the same feature.

Days after this incident, the company revealed that it had discontinued the contact import feature in September 2019. This was after it discovered that people were abusing it.

Read also: Facebook’s misinformation problems are worse in India

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