In Brief

Cyber attack targets Instagram celebrities

Phone numbers and email addresses are stolen by online criminals

Hackers have gained access to the personal data of celebrities on Instagram by using a "flaw" in its security systems, the BBC reports.

The hack has revealed the phone numbers and email addresses of several public figures who use the service, according to the broadcaster. Passwords are not thought to have been stolen in the attack.

It's not known which accounts were affected by the hack, but the Daily Telegraph says "the breach emerged two days after Selena Gomez's Instagram was hacked and nude photos of her ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber were posted to the actress's 125 million followers."

Gomez's account was briefly taken offline. It re-emerged "moments later with the photos removed", the newspaper reports.

Instagram said in a statement to Time: "We recently discovered that one or more individuals obtained unlawful access to a number of high-profile Instagram users' contact information, specifically email address and phone number, by exploiting a bug in an Instagram API".

The Facebook-owned social media site uses APIs (Application Programming Interface) to "communicate with other apps", says The Verge. It later fixed them to prevent a similar attack from happening again.

Instagram has notified its verified account members, who are mostly public figures, about the leak and is urging them to be "cautious" if they receive unrecognised phone calls, text messages, or emails.

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