Facebook sues programmer who collected 178 million user data
Facebook sues programmer who collected 178 million user data

Facebook has sued a Ukrainian citizen, accusing him of hiding his website and selling personal information of more than 178 million users on a secret cybercrime forum.

According to court documents submitted, the man was identified as Alexander Alexandrovich Solonchenko, a resident of Kirovograd, Ukraine.

The company claims that Solontchenko abused the premium part of the messaging service, calling it import contacts.

This feature allows users to sync their phone's address book and see which contacts have Facebook accounts so that users can communicate with their friends through Messenger.

"Between January 2018 and September 2019, Solontchenko used Android automated virtual tools to deliver millions of random phone numbers to the company's servers," the company said.

Since the information returned by the company's server included the site's account phone number, Solontchenko collected this data.

In December 2020, this data was sold through cybercrime forums and stolen data marketplace RaidForums.

Solontchenko has sold hundreds of millions of user data from multiple companies via the forums, the company said.

Since 2020, Solontchenko has been selling stolen data from the largest commercial bank in Ukraine, the largest private courier company in Ukraine and a French data analysis company.

After the defendant used the same username and contact details via the job portal and email account, Facebook was able to connect Solontchenko with RaidForum users.

Programmer sell user information on the black market

Solontchenko is a freelance computer programmer with experience in automating tasks on an Android emulator, affiliate marketing, and using multiple programming languages ​​(including Python, PHP, and spammers).

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

The social network is now asking a judge to issue an injunction to prevent Solontchenko from accessing his website. Sell ​​more leaked data. The social network also wants unspecified compensation.

The Solontchenko event is Facebook's second data collection process that uses the Import Contacts feature and then shares it through RaidForums.

In April 2021, someone posted the phone numbers of 533 million Facebook users. The company said the data was collected through abuse of the same functionality.

A few days after the incident, the company announced that it had stopped using the contact import feature in September 2019. This happened after it was discovered that people were abusing it.

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