Instagram says high-profile users targeted in cyber attack

An Instagram bug meant hackers gained access to celebrity users' phone numbers and email addresses, the company admitted on Wednesday. The application programming interface or API is used by the platform to communicate with other apps.

Instagram has not provided further details regarding it.

"Our main concern is for the safety and security of our community", Instagram said, according to the website.

"As always, we encourage people to be vigilant about the security of their account and exercise caution if they encounter any suspicious activity such as unrecognized incoming calls, texts and emails".

The disclosure comes three days after the Instagram account belonging to pop singer and actress Selena Gomez was briefly taken down after posting nude pictures of fellow pop star and one-time romantic partner Justin Bieber.

Instagram said users' passwords had not been stolen but warned that the attackers were looking for contact information. The account was, however, restored by Instagram later in the day.

The social network, which has more than 700 million monthly active users, said it was hacked by cyber-attackers, exposing the contact information of certain well-known figures, according to a BBC report. Early indication of this issue was first sighted when some users invaded Twitter and Facebook with complaints of how they were unable to access their accounts. In any event, it's a good idea for Instagram users to use two-factor authentication to better protect their accounts.

"Assuming it caught the problem soon after the breach was discovered, the fallout shouldn't be too bad, especially because it won't affect the vast majority if Instagram's hundreds of millions of users, but it's still a major black eye for the service, which has big followings for its celebrity users", Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson said in comments obtained by Fox News. Whether or not the account takeover had any connection to the exploited Instagram bug is unclear. The company has since informed all of the verified account holders that their personal information could have been acquired and exposed.

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Linton responded by saying: "Do you think the USA govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?!"

Vanessa Coleman