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Facebook sues Ukrainian who stole data from 178 million users

Facebook has filed a complaint against a Ukrainian citizen for allegedly stealing and selling the personal data of more than 178 million social media users on a hacker resource. According to court documents, the offender is Alexander Alexandrovich Solontchenko, a resident of Kirovograd, Ukraine.

According to Facebook, Solontchenko used the Contact Importer tool of the Facebook Messenger service in his criminal activities. The tool allowed users to sync their contact lists on their phones to find out which contacts were using their Facebook account and connect with them through Facebook Messenger. Between January 2018 and September 2019, Solontchenko, using an automated tool that identified itself as an Android device, sent random phone numbers to Facebook’s servers. If there was a match, the servers would send response information – the attacker collects this data. And on December 1, 2019, he put them up for sale on one of the specialist resources. On this resource, it first appears under the pseudo Solomame, then under the alias barak_obama.

Facebook sues Ukrainian who stole data from 178 million users

According to Facebook, since 2020, Solontchenko has also stolen and put up for sale data from Ukraine’s largest commercial bank, Ukraine’s largest private delivery service, as well as a French analytics company. As a freelance programmer he was fluent in Python and PHP, knew how to use the Xrumer program for mass messaging, and also had experience in automating tasks in Android emulators. Until approximately June 2019, depending on the applicant; he also sold shoes on the web, operating under the Drop Top brand.

The lawsuit is filed in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California. Facebook asks judge to issue court order barring defendant from accessing Facebook sites; and selling more of the stolen data. The Contact Importer function was no longer available in September 2019; but he was several times at the origin of data theft on the social network. In April 2021, another attacker stole the data of 533 million users of the service; Facebook claims that Contact Importer was also used for this.

According to some recent reports, Facebook wants to change its name. The sources say the company’s management intends to create a brand that will suit the concept of “metaverse”; and all the products included therein.

Sources say the new name is being kept under wraps and may not even be known to the company’s senior management. Presumably, it can be paired with Horizon app to simulate virtual office work.


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