KOLs and bloggers pay attention! TechCrunch, an American technology news webpage, reported on 20 May that a database with personal contact information of millions of influential users was found online. The details presumably belonged to KOLs and bloggers with a certain number of followers. TechCrunch then tracked back to Chtrbox, a social media marketing company based in Mumbai. Details like email address, telephone number and public account information could be found in the database without encryption. They could be accessed without using a password. There were currently up to 49 million data in the database without protection, they can be browsed freely.
Security experts had seized an online database, which was hosted by Amazon Server, suspected to hold nearly 50 million Instagram influencers’ personal details. Leaked public personal information included the number of followers, profile photo, Bio, living place, whether they were verified and more. Private data (may have been set as public information by users) such as email and phone number were leaked too. The report pointed out, security researcher Anurag Sen helped to trace back to Chtrbox, the owner of the online database. According to Chtrbox website, the company acts as a matching platform for different brands and Indian KOLs, pay the social media influencers to post sponsored content on their social media. After knowing the database was exposed, the firm has pulled the server down but did not respond to the issue regarding the way they obtained the personal information.
The contact in the database had been proved to be genuine. However, these KOLs did not necessarily have a partnership with Chtrbox. Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, replied, “it is a violation of Facebook policy to collect personal information through Instagram.” Currently, Instagram was investigating into the issue, where did the information like users’ emails and phone numbers come from, how Chtrbox obtained the information, why the database could be accessed publicly, and what were the sources of the mentioned information, from Instagram or other sources.