@# Find Out Who Owns Any Cell Phone Number &$

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11 Oct. 2014

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A few days ago, security researcher Suriya Prakash demonstrated that he could collect a large number of usernames and phone numbers from Facebook customers by leveraging a privacy flaw. The accounts of users who try to look up a wide range of phone numbers are suspended for 24 hours. Facebook wants to be your one and only messaging app, so it’s asking for your phone number. The test rolls out today to a limited subset of Messenger For Android users, but you can bet if the design and phone number messaging is popular, you’ll see these changes roll out to everyone on Android, and maybe iOS too. Update: One thing you won’t see, though, is the option to actually send SMS messages from within this test of Facebook Messenger.
Your number is defaulted to the “Only Me” privacy setting on your profile, but a company spokesperson admits it also uses that number to “to help keep Facebook safe, to help people make friend connections, and to deliver targeted ads.” The idea of your phone number and contact list helping Facebook monetize might irk some privacy buffs, but since Facebook is starting this as a test and will likely roll it out slow if it works, you won’t see concentrated, collective outrage like its old, big changes used to. In the end, Facebook doesn’t want you to have to bounce out of messenger and SMS someone, so it’s essentially assimilating SMS and letting you do it from within its app.
If the strategy works, it could increase engagement and give Facebook more info about who you care about. But really, if Facebook is going to complete its mission to connect the world, it has blossom from the ashes of SMS.
Facebook is an online social networking service that allows its users to connect with friends and family as well as make new connections. What’s more concerning is the exploit works even if a person has set his phone number private. In its defense, Facebook said, “the ability to search for a person by phone number is intentional behavior and not a bug in Facebook.

As we’ve mentioned earlier too, the problem is due to the way Facebook handles privacy. As you can see, by default, your privacy settings allow everyone to find you with search and friend finder using the contact info you have provided, such as your email address and phone number.
Today it starts testing a version of Messenger for Android that lets you message non-friends by phone number. Facebook added that option a year ago, but saw low traction, and so it’s stripped it out in favor of trying this new method where you send messages to phone numbers, but they’re delivered inside the recipient’s Messenger app, not their phone’s SMS inbox.
There’s cross-platform services like Facebook Messages and the new Google Hangouts, which let people communicate across desktop, mobile, and sometimes even email. You might not know which of these apps your friends are on, but you can bet on one thing: they have a phone number. They scrape your phone’s contact list and make it easy to message anyone whose number you have. I’d expect it to immediately start suggesting you friend whoever you message with by number. The reason for this, in Facebook, if you want to completely hide your phone number, you are required to also change your Privacy Settings.
By default, your privacy settings allow everyone to find you with search and friend finder using the contact info you have provided, such as your email address and phone number. Thus even if your profile is public (which shouldn’t be in the first place), your phone number is not visible to the public. Since most people on Facebook were either not aware of this setting or forgot to set it, their phone number is still searchable by public even if they have set their phone number to private in the previous step.

Just see the screenshot below which shows the default privacy settings of how you connect with people on Facebook. It will stop anyone not in your friend list from being able to search for you on Facebook if they have your phone number (or any bot which is running to fetch details using random phone numbers, as seen in the vulnerability).
Sometimes you end up with someone’s phone number, and the friendship comes later if at all. The security researcher has claimed that around 83.3 percent of Facebook users are vulnerable. And as the security researcher did, malicious users too can build a database of phone numbers and easily link the numbers to Facebook profiles, which includes your name and other personal information.
And then there are specialty apps like Snapchat’s self-destructing photos, and Line’s stickers. So it asks to verify your phone number and import your address book so you can select recipients by name rather than number. Facebook has also confirmed about the exploit by the researcher and said that it has limited the brute force search attack.

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