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Instagram influencers’ data leak traced back to Mumbai-based marketing firm Chtrbox

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Earlier this week, an unsecured database containing the private contact information of as many as 50 million Instagram influencers, including those of celebrities and official brand accounts, was found online by a security researcher. Reportedly, the database was hosted on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server without any password protection on the data, leaving it completely open for anyone to access. When further investigated, the leaked user details were traced back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox. In the latest development, however, Chtrbox calls the reports of data breach ‘inaccurate’.

According to a report by Economic Times, Chtrbox says that database of ‘limited influencers’ was exposed for approximately three days, however, it did not include any sensitive personal data. Apparently, the database only had information that the influencers share on public domain themselves.

Instagram’s Stories feature now has more than 50 million users worldwide. Image: Reuters

“We would also like to affirm that no personal data has been sourced through unethical means by Chtrbox. Our database is for internal research use only, we have never sold individual data or our database, and we have never purchased hacked-data resulting from social media platform breaches. Our use of our database is limited to help our team connect with the right influencers to support influencers to monetise their online presence, and help brands create great content,” a Chtrbox spokesperson told ET.

Instagram, on the other hand, says that it is still investigating whether it was a third party that improperly stored the details. We reached out to Instagram, and a company spokesperson said, “We are investigating whether a third party improperly stored Instagram data, in violation of our policies. It’s also not clear whether the phone numbers and emails in Chtrbox’s database came from Instagram. Regardless, the possibility of third parties mishandling user data is something we take seriously, which is why we’re quickly working to understand what happened.”

The leaked database, according to TechCrunch, contained information about the “worth” of Instagram influencers, calculated by Chtrbox taking into account the number of followers, total shares, favourites, and other metrics. This data would then help the social media marketing company gauge how much to pay to have the influencer push their clients’ sponsored content.

The database was taken off the AWS server shortly after Chtrbox was reached out to.

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