21 May 2019: Millions of Instagram influencers' contact information leaked online
In another Facebook-specific leak, personal data of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brands has been exposed online.
The information was discovered in a database which had more than 49 million records and could have have been accessed by anyone who knew where to look.
Notably, it was hosted by Amazon Web Services and left unprotected by the owner.
Here's more on the matter.
Issue: Unprotected database with personal and contact information
The database, first found by security researcher Anurag Sen and reported by TechCrunch, carried information from the accounts of various high-profile influencers, food bloggers, celebrities and brands.
This included their profile pictures, verification status, bio, follower count, location, and contact information like email addresses and phone numbers used for creating the account.
TechCrunch was able to confirm the authenticity of the data as well.
Fact: Entries grew by the hour
The database had over 49 million records at the time of discovery, but TechCrunch found that the numbers were growing, which implied that someone had been accessing it.
So, the outlet delved into the matter and traced the origin of the database back to Chtrbox, a Mumbai-based social media marketing firm.
The firm connects influencers with brands, paying them to share sponsored content.
Action: Now, the database has been pulled
When Chtrbox was contacted about the issue and the publicly available information, the database was taken offline.
However, the marketing company didn't respond to any requests for comments.
More importantly, what makes this case even weirder is the fact that some of the influencers found in the database denied having any association with the company.
Questions: Many questions still remain unclear
While the database has now gone offline, many questions still remain unclear, including how the company got access to this information on such a large scale.
Facebook, which owns Instagram and has been marred by several controversies of late, issued a statement saying that it is looking into the matter to understand how the information in question, particularly the contact details, were sourced.
Fact: Here's what the Facebook said
"We're looking into the issue to understand if the data described - including email and phone numbers - was from Instagram or from other sources," Facebook stated. "We're also inquiring with Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available."