Today there are 700 million users of the widely used photo-sharing app Instagram. With the popularity of social networking sites, online threats also increase in the form of identity theft, hacking and the like.

Instagram API bug

On Aug. 30, the social networking app sent an email to its “verified” or high-profile users, including celebrities, politicians, journalists, and other personalities with a good number of followers. The email stated that a bug was discovered in an Instagram API. The bug is said to be capable of obtaining users’ private details such as email address and phone numbers.

Security level increased

In the email addressed to high-profile users, the company also said that none of their passwords and/or usernames were hacked and that the recent bug was already fixed. The correspondence also reminded the high-profile users to activate their two-factor authentication and to use unique passwords to tighten the security of their Instagram accounts.

This move showcased the company’s initiative to keep its users on their toes when it comes to their online security. Instagram encourages users to report any suspicious activity they notice when using the application. Anything out of the ordinary such as calls from unknown phone numbers and emails from unknown addresses should be reported.

Hacking and phishing

Hacking has already victimized some celebrities. This only proves how serious the problem is. Popular singer Selena Gomez’ Instagram account, for example, was hacked just this week. Gomez is one of the high-profile or “verified” users of the photo-sharing app.

The company also reminded the users that it is important to keep personal information private because simple email addresses and phone numbers can already be used to access accounts.

According to security professionals, this vital information can be used to cross reference other data found on the web, especially celebrities who live under public scrutiny.

There are many different types of phishing schemes, the most popular is done by sending an email where the hacker will ask for the user’s login credentials while pretending to be someone or something else.

Other hackers managed to steal accounts by using a person’s SIM card to collect private information. This is because SIM cards are usually linked to phone numbers. In order to protect one’s privacy (celebrity or not), experts encourage everyone to be vigilant when using social networking apps. It is a good idea to use complex passwords and two-factor authentification if it’s available.