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Instagram data leak reported in Mumbai, Facebook responds

TechCrunch recently reported that a massive Instagram data leak had compromised the data of millions of brand accounts, influencers and celebrities.

The leaked data was traced back to a Mumbai-based social media marketing firm known as Chtrbox.

Chtrbox operates by paying influencers to promote content from brands on the social media platform. Their high-profile client list includes the likes of Flipkart, Nike, Adidas, Star Movies, Puma, among others.

Hosted by Amazon Web Services, the database was left exposed without a password. Initial reports claimed it contained data of over 49 million influencers.

The public data which was compromised contained numbers and the email address of Instagram influencers, among other essential details.

Chtrbox contested the number of records compromised in a tweet, claiming that they have never had the data of more than 350,000 influencers.

According to the firm, no personal information had been sourced through unethical means and that the data had always been used only for internal research purposes.

“This particular database of limited influencers was inadvertently left unsecured for approximately 72 hours. As soon as we discovered the database vulnerability, we took immediate corrective action to secure the limited exposure,” they added.

Facebook, the owner of Instagram, later told TechCrunch that after an initial investigation, no evidence was found to prove that the email address or phone numbers of users were accessed. 

The social media giant added that it will be looking into the matter to assess whether the data in question was procured from Instagram or other sources.

“We’re also inquiring with Chatrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available,” it added.

A Social India talked to Jaipur-based influencer Nehal Nayar to get her views on the incident. She felt that influencers and brands go hand in hand with an immense amount of trust to grow together.

However, the influencers are often forced to trust third-party involvement such as marketing agencies because of the kind of boost they give.

But the incident has left her in doubts. “Hearing about this event was a bit disheartening since I have been associated with a few agencies, and I’m not really sure they’re safe or not.”

She admitted that now she would scrutinize the backgrounds of agencies more thoroughly to check how many brands they’ve been associated with, along with how well-known and professional they are.

Nayar does feel that Instagram can work on a few privacy factors to ensure such incidents are curbed, if not eliminated.

But in terms of trust, she still firmly supports Instagram with her details because of how much the platform has impacted her life.

“Instagram is something that has not only given me fame, but has also made me connect with a lot of other people and brands, that I’m really thankful for. When we talk about trust here, yes, I still trust Instagram and I always will until its existence.”

This isn’t the first time Instagram has been in the midst of a data leak. Two years ago, it admitted that a group of hackers had used a security bug to scrape the numbers and details of approximately six million Instagram users. 

Those targeted were mainly verified users and celebrities, with Selena Gomez being a high-profile victim of the leak. Apart from her, the hackers revealed names of eminent figures including sports stars and media personalities.

Furthermore, Facebook, which acquired Instagram in 2012, was right at the centre of the biggest data breach in history when it was found guilty of exposing the details of 50 million users.

It had shared the details with British data consulting company Cambridge Analytica, which worked with US President Donald Trump’s election team to target potential voters with political advertisements.

(Featured image source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

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