LinkedIn scraping of 700M records was ‘for fun’ states hacker

Last month we claimed a LinkedIn scraping that uncovered the details of 700 million buyers – some 92% of all those on the company. The details involved location, phone numbers, and inferred salaries.

The male powering it has now been recognized, and states that he did it “for fun” – while he is also promoting the data …


Data scraping is a controversial subject matter. At its most straightforward, it signifies writing a piece of application to visit a webpage, read through the data displayed, and then include it to a database.

A lot more usually, men and women will use APIs (software programming interfaces) provided by the world wide web support for reputable uses, and use it to grab big portions of details.

It’s controversial simply because, on the just one hand, those people doing the scraping can argue that they are only accessing publicly accessible knowledge – they are just carrying out so in an efficient way. Some others argue that they are abusing instruments not supposed for the goal, and that there is much more facts accessible by APIs than is visible on web-sites, building it hard for end users to know what details has been uncovered.

There is even controversy around terminology. Numerous security experts argue that it isn’t a stability breach if the info is accessible for general public access. I would argue that if a assistance like LinkedIn does not spot a person scraping practically hundreds of millions of data, that’s a massive security failing.

LinkedIn scraping for enjoyment – and revenue

BBC News spoke with the guy who took the facts, below the title Tom Liner.

How would you come to feel if all your information and facts was catalogued by a hacker and put into a monster spreadsheet with thousands and thousands of entries, to be marketed on the net to the highest spending cyber-legal?

Which is what a hacker calling himself Tom Liner did final month “for fun” when he compiled a database of 700 million LinkedIn customers from all in excess of the world, which he is selling for about $5,000 (£3,600 €4,200) […]

In the scenario of Mr Liner, his most up-to-date exploit was introduced at 08:57 BST in a put up on a infamous hacking forum […] “Hi, I have 700 million 2021 LinkedIn records”, he wrote. Included in the submit was a backlink to a sample of a million records and an invite for other hackers to get hold of him privately and make him provides for his databases.

Liner says he was also behind the scraping of 533M Facebook profiles again in April (you can test whether your knowledge was grabbed).

Tom informed me he produced the 700 million LinkedIn database working with “almost the actual same technique” that he employed to build the Fb list.

He explained: “It took me several months to do. It was very intricate. I experienced to hack the API of LinkedIn. If you do also several requests for consumer knowledge in one time then the technique will permanently ban you.”

LinkedIn denies that Liner utilized its API, but cybersecurity company SIS Intelligence says we need extra controls more than their use.

CEO Amir Hadžipašić states the details in this, and other mass-scraping functions, are not what most people today would anticipate to be obtainable in the general public area. He thinks API programmes, which give extra information about end users than the normal general public can see, should really be extra tightly controlled.

“Large-scale leaks like this are concerning, given the intricate depth, in some circumstances, of this details – this sort of as geographic places or private mobile and e mail addresses. 

“To most men and women it will occur as a shock that there’s so significantly info held by these API enrichment expert services.

Stability professional and owner Troy Hunt suggests he doesn’t think about API misuse to be a protection breach, but typically agrees on the need to have for much more control.

“I don’t disagree with the stance of Facebook and other individuals but I come to feel that the response of ‘this is not a problem’ is, although perhaps technically exact, lacking the sentiment of how precious this person details is and their possibly downplaying their own roles in the creation of these databases.”

Image: Benjamin Lehman/Unsplash

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