Threat actors scrape 600 million LinkedIn profiles and are selling the data online – again

Pierluigi Paganini July 12, 2021

Researchers from Cyber News Team have spotted threat actors offering for sale 600 million LinkedIn profiles scraped from the platform, again.

Original post:

For the third time in the past four months, LinkedIn seems to have experienced another massive data scrape conducted by a malicious actor. Once again, an archive of data collected from hundreds of millions of LinkedIn user profiles surfaced on a hacker forum, where it’s currently being sold for an undisclosed sum.

This time, the author of the forum post is purportedly selling information gathered from 600 million LinkedIn profiles.

LinkedIn data scraping

They also claim that the data is new and “better” than that collected during the previous scrapes.

LinkedIn data scraping

Samples from the archive shared by the author include full names, email addresses, links to the users’ social media accounts, and other data points that users had publicly listed on their LinkedIn profiles.

While not deeply sensitive, the information could still be used by malicious actors to quickly and easily find new targets based on the criminals’ preferred methods of social engineering.

LinkedIn’s refusal to treat malicious scraping as a security problem can potentially allow cybercriminals to gather data on new victims with impunity. The social media platform, however, is of a different opinion on the matter:

“Our teams have investigated a set of alleged LinkedIn data that has been posted for sale. We want to be clear that this is not a data breach and no private LinkedIn member data was exposed,” LinkedIn said in its June 29 statement regarding a previous data scrape, where malicious actors collected data from 700 million profiles.

Even though LinkedIn’s representatives are correct in saying that no private data was exposed, collecting publicly available information on a mass scale can still put users at risk of spam and phishing attacks.

Read more about the April 2021 LinkedIn scrape: Scraped data of 500 million LinkedIn users being sold online

To see if any of your online accounts were exposed in previous security breaches, use our personal data leak checker with a library of 15+ billion breached records.

What’s being sold by the threat actor?

Judging from the samples shared by the author, the archive appears to contain a variety of publicly available professional information gathered from LinkedIn profiles, including:

  • LinkedIn IDs
  • Full names
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • LinkedIn profile URLs
  • Links to other social media profiles
  • Genders
  • Birth dates
  • Locations
  • Professional titles and other work-related data

The sample provided by the forum post author contains 632,699 LinkedIn profile entries, which include 154,204 user email addresses.

An example of scraped data from the sample:

LinkedIn data scraping

Fortunately, it seems that no deeply sensitive information like contents of personal messages, document scans, or credit card details are included in the archive. That being said, even an email address or a phone number can be enough for a persistent cybercriminal to cause damage to their victims.

Scraping is dangerous because it allows criminals to easily find new targets

Even though the data gathered from 600 million LinkedIn profiles was not acquired as a result of a breach, allowing third parties to mass scrape LinkedIn user profiles can result in those users being attacked by malicious actors in a variety of ways.

For example, phishers and spammers often use data acquired from scrapers to find new victims: they can extract scraped public contact details and use them for robocalls, spam lists, and social engineering attacks, whereby phishers and scammers can try to manipulate users into revealing their personal information and banking details. This is why many web applications use scraping mitigation tools that help protect against hostile data collection by bots and threat actors.

Having suffered three massive scraping incidents in the past four months, LinkedIn still does not seem to take malicious scraping seriously. Criminals still appear to be able to gather user-related information virtually unopposed, which makes LinkedIn’s refusal to clamp down on third-party scraping by implementing robust anti-scraping measures that much more perplexing.

What to do if you’ve been affected?

If you suspect that your LinkedIn profile data might have been scraped by the threat actor, we recommend you:

  • Remove your email address and phone number from your public LinkedIn profile to avoid them being scraped by a malicious third party in the future.
  • Change the password of your LinkedIn and email accounts.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on all your online accounts.
  • Beware of suspicious messages on social media and connection requests from strangers.
  • Consider using a password manager to create unique strong passwords and store them securely.

In addition, beware of phishing emails and text messages. Again, don’t click on anything suspicious or respond to anyone you don’t know.

About the author: CyberNews Team

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, data scraping)

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