Johannesburg - Photo-sharing social network Instagram said it has resolved a hack which affected nearly 6 million users, exposing the personal information of celebrities on the dark web.
Instagram co-founder and chief technology officer Mike Krieger confirmed the hack which compromised the accounts of numerous celebrities including Emilia Clarke, Snoop Dogg, Floyd Mayweather, Beyoncé, Leonardo DiCaprio and Taylor Swift.
“We care deeply about the safety and security of the Instagram community, so we want to let you know that we recently discovered a bug on Instagram that could be used to access some people’s email address and phone number even if they were not public. No passwords or other Instagram activity was revealed,” Krieger said in a blog post.
“We quickly fixed the bug, and have been working with law enforcement on the matter. Although we cannot determine which specific accounts may have been impacted, we believe it was a low percentage of Instagram accounts,” he added.
Despite the bug being fixed, technology website The Verge reported a list of celebrities whose contact information is still available on the dark web. This includes:
- Actors: Emma Watson, Zac Efron and Channing Tatum.
- Musicians: Harry Styles, Ellie Goulding, Victoria Beckham, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Adele and Britney Spears.
- Athletes: Zinedine Zidane, Neymar, David Beckham and Ronaldinho.
Information of the celebrities that could be available includes their mobile phone numbers, email addresses or both, given that Instagram uses those credentials to log in.
One of the biggest incidents which emerged from the hack was the posting of an old nude image of Justin Bieber from Selena Gomez’s account.
The account was pulled down and later reinstated.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we encourage you to be vigilant about the security of your account, and exercise caution if you observe any suspicious activity such as unrecognised incoming calls, texts, or emails,” Krieger said.
Instagram encouraged users to report any unusual activity through its reporting tools, by tapping the “…” menu from the profile, selecting “Report a Problem” and then “Spam or Abuse”.
“Protecting the community has been important at Instagram from day one, and we’re constantly working to make Instagram a safer place. We are very sorry this happened,” Kreiger said.