31 Mar 2022
Apple & Meta shared User Data to hackers pretending to be Law enforcement Officials
The Index Today
Apple and Meta, the Facebook’s parent company handed over user data to hackers who faked emergency data request orders typically sent by law enforcement, according to a report by Bloomberg. The slip-up happened in mid-2021, with both companies falling for the phony requests and providing information about users’ IP addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses.
According to the report, the law enforcement officials often request data from social platforms in connection with criminal investigations, allowing them to obtain information about the owner of a specific online account. While these requests require a subpoena or search warrant signed by a judge, emergency data requests don’t — and are intended for cases that involve life-threatening situations.
As explained in a recent report from Krebs on Security, the fake emergency data requests are becoming increasingly common. During an attack, hackers must first gain access to a police department’s email systems. The hackers can then forge an emergency data request that describes the potential danger of not having the requested data sent over right away, all while assuming the identity of a law enforcement official. According to Krebs, some hackers are selling access to government emails online, specifically with the purpose of targeting social platforms with fake emergency data requests.
As Krebs notes, the majority of bad actors carrying out these fake requests are actually teenagers — and according to Bloomberg, cybersecurity researchers believe the teen mastermind behind the Lapsus$ hacking group could be involved in conducting this type of scam. London police have since arrested seven teens in connection with the group.
Meta and Apple aren’t the only known companies affected by fake emergency data requests. Bloomberg says hackers also contacted Snap with a forged request, but it’s not clear if the company followed through. Krebs on Security’s report also includes a confirmation from Discord that the platform gave away information in response to one of these fake requests.
Snap didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.