This week, it’s been discovered that data from 49 million Instagram accounts has been exposed for the public to see. The Instagram data included information such as the profile pictures, the bios, the number of followers, and the location of the accounts. Is your Instagram account affected? Continue reading below to find out.
How Did This Leak Occur?
This leak came from a database of information collected on 49 million accounts. The database was stored on servers hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and was left unprotected, without a password, for the public to access and read.
This database also had the personal email addresses and phone numbers scraped from the Instagram accounts. But it’s possible this information had been set to public view by the Instagram account owners, so anyone could copy and enter them into the database.
Who Was Responsible?
The owner of the database was an Indian marketing firm, Chtrbox. It was used by the company to track accounts, especially ones with large number of followers and are sought-out by companies to advertise products and services. The database was used by Chtrbox to determine how much to charge to advertise on these accounts.
Shortly after the leak was discovered, Chtrbox pulled the database offline and it is no longer accessible to the public. The company has since issued a statement saying this database did not contain any sensitive personal data and only had public information collected from the accounts, which anyone on Instagram can see.
How You Can Protect Your Account
If you are on Instagram, it’s hard to control how the personal information and pictures you post are being used by Instagram. Obviously, the best way to protect your privacy is to stay off social media all together.
However, if you want to continue using Instagram to stay connected to friends and family members, consider setting your account to ‘Private’ so only your followers can see what you post. You can do this by tapping on ‘Settings’ while in your Instagram app, and then selecting Privacy and Security > Account Privacy > Private Account.
You should also update your password regularly and can even enable two-factor authentication (2FA). If you setup 2FA you’ll be asked to enter a special login code or confirm your login attempt each time someone tries accessing Instagram from a device Instagram doesn’t recognize. You can learn more about it and how to enable it here.
To add an extra layer of protection, consider installing an antivirus program on your phone or tablet. Here at FixMeStick, we use McAfee Total Protection. You can download it on your computer as well as your smartphone devices so you can stay protected 24/7!