Report: Facebook sues Ukrainian for selling data on 178 million users

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Facebook has reportedly filed a lawsuit against a Ukrainian accused of collecting information on 178 million of its users and selling it in a marketplace for stolen data.

The record reports that Facebook filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on October 21. The company alleges in the file that the defendant, Alexander Alexandrovich Solonchenko, abused a Facebook Messenger feature from January 2018 to September 2019 to retrieve information about 178 million users of its servers.

The feature in question is called Contact Importer. “Between June 2015 and September 2019 and around this date”, indicates Facebook in the deposit, “Messenger Contact Importer included a feature that would return an individual list of all Facebook users matching the phone numbers downloaded from the address book on a user’s mobile device (‘CI match feature’). “

Facebook says Solontchenko “used a computer program to send automated requests to Facebook computers, while claiming to be multiple Android devices connected to Facebook’s mobile Messenger app,” so that he could abuse Contact Importer to collect credentials Facebook and people’s phone numbers. This data was then sold on a well-known criminal forum.

This is not the first time that Contact Importer has been identified as the source of personal information about Facebook users. Someone else disclosed the names, locations and phone numbers, among others, of 533 million people from 106 countries in April. This data was also recovered by abusing Contact Importer, meaning that the feature allowed at least two large-scale leaks.

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Contact Importer has been changed several times to combat scratching attempts. Facebook says it “set limits for the number of contacts that could be uploaded through Messenger Contact Importer and how often those phone numbers could be submitted” in February 2018, and as of September 2019, it “won’t plus returns a one-to-one list of matching phone numbers. “

Facebook indicates in the file that it is seeking injunctions against Solontchenko to prevent him from accessing its products or selling information collected from them in addition to “damages in an amount to be determined at trial” , interest before and after judgment, and “any other equitable or legal remedy that the Court considers just and appropriate. “

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