Hackers claim attack on global phone directory firm Truecaller

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), known for their pro-Assad stance when it comes to Syria's turmoil and their previous attacks in support of it, claimed this week to have taken databases from Truecaller. Truecaller is a company based in Sweden that operates one of the world's largest phone directories - that relies on users sharing their mobile address books to operate. They boast more than 20 million users worldwide, most of them in the Asian, Middle Eastern, European, and American markets.

The SEA's claim was made on Twitter, where the group disclosed the database name, database username, as well as password. In all, they claimed to have downloaded seven databases containing more than 500GB of data, including the main database on the company's website, which is more than 450GB in size. Access to the data, the group said, was due largely in part to Truecaller's outdated WordPress installation.

While Truecaller works mainly through smartphones, some of the features are available on the company's site. While boasting about their attack, the SEA claimed to have access to login credentials stored by the company, which grant access to more than a million Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Gmail accounts.

In a statement, Truecaller confirmed the security incident, noting that it did result in the unauthorized access to some data. However, the company says the attack was stopped quickly, and they disputed the SEA's claims of possessing credentials to social media and email.

"Our investigation into the matter indicates the attackers were able to access tokens, which was immediately reset. Metaphorically speaking, a token is a unique lock for each user, but what the attackers did not acquire is the needed key, which has also been reset," the statement says.

"Truecaller does not store passwords, credit card information, or any other sensitive information about our users. It is false information that attackers were able to access our users Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media passwords."

The company also noted that their investigation is ongoing. For their part, the SEA claimed that the data taken during the attack was turned over to the Syrian government.

Read more about data protection in CSOonline's Data Protection section.

Tags: Truecaller, applications, cyberwarfare, software, Syrian Electronic Army, data protection

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Incident handling is a vast topic, but here are a few tips for you to consider in your incident response. I hope you never have to use them, but the odds are at some point you will and I hope being ready saves you pain (or your job!).


  1. Have an incident response plan.

  2. Pre-define your incident response team 

  3. Define your approach: watch and learn or contain and recover.

  4. Pre-distribute call cards.

  5. Forensic and incident response data capture.

  6. Get your users on-side.

  7. Know how to report crimes and engage law enforcement. 

  8. Practice makes perfect.

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