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LinkedIn denies data breach that reportedly exposed 700 million user records

Report claims 'breach' led to profiles belonging to 92% of LinkedIn users being put up for sale on a popular hacker forum

Recruitment platform LinkedIn has denied claims that it has suffered a data breach, claiming that 700 million user accounts have surfaced online due to 'data scraping'. 

Cyber security specialists Privacy Sharks spotted a sample of the dataset for sale on a popular hacker forum called 'RaidForums'. 

Researchers from the company viewed the sample set - which included one million records -  and were able to confirm that it included full names, gender, email addresses and phone numbers for LinkedIn users.

The firm immediately contacted LinkedIn, which suffered a similar incident just two months ago when the details of 500 million users showed up online. That data leak contained an "aggregation of data from a number of websites and companies" alongside "publicly viewable member profile data", according to the recruitment site, so it wasn't technically a 'breach' where private info was stolen. 

This latest find, which is said to include 700 million records, is being described in a similar fashion by LinkedIn, which seems keen to stress that it "is not a data breach". Analysis from Privacy Shark, however, suggests it could include information from both public and private profiles.

"Our teams have investigated a set of alleged LinkedIn data that has been posted for sale," the company said in a post on its site.

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"We want to be clear that this is not a data breach and no private LinkedIn member data was exposed. Our initial investigation has found that this data was scraped from LinkedIn and other various websites and includes the same data reported earlier this year in our April 2021 scraping update."

'Data scraping' seems to be a bit of a theme for LinkedIn this year, as the firm was recently given legal authority to try and stop rival firm hiQ Labs from harvesting its data. The move essentially dismissed a lower court ruling that previously barred the company from preventing hiQ Labs from accessing information that LinkedIn members had made public on the business platform. 

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