Unnamed hackers broke into Selena Gomez' Instagram account on Monday and uploaded nude pictures of her ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber.
Selena Gomez' Instagram account was soon restored but not before yet another celebrity saw his privacy violated by mischevious hackers.
Instagram saw unprecedented activity on Monday after Selena Gomez' account, the most followed in the world with 125m followers, was shut down after it was infiltrated by hackers looking to have a bit of fun.
Even though Selena's Instagram team restored her account soon afterward, the damage was already done. All of her 125 million followers on Instagram were momentarily exposed to stark nude pictures of her ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber on her timeline.
The pictures were originally taken in 2015 by the media when Bieber was vacationing in Bora Bora, a tiny island group in the Pacific Ocean. After the pictures were first released, Bieber expressed that he felt violated and that he didn't think he could feel comfortable anymore even in a private space 'that far away'.
The hackers also changed the name on Selena's account to 'islah gomez' before it was corrected by her social media team.
Now that Bieber's pictures are back on Instagram, it raises serious questions about the security of the world's most popular Instagram account. In short, if Selena's account can be hacked, then anyone else's account could be too.
Back in June, researchers at security research firm ESET observed how Russian hackers were communicating with each other via Britney Spears' Instagram account that commanded over 16 million followers.
The hackers used a 'watering hole' technique that involved a Firefox extension redirecting website visitors to the group command and control server. The server then communicated with affected computers and injected malware or gained remote access in the process. Turla, the said group of hackers, has been known for targeting computers belonging to embassies, governments, government officials and diplomats.
The increasing regularity with which hackers have been targeting social media accounts of celebrities, companies, and governments has significantly concerned firms that run social media platforms. The likes of Facebook and Google run bug bounty programmes to identify security flaws and also offer regular security patches to counter the latest threats.
Last year, Facebook paid $10,000 (£7,000) to a 10 year-old who spotted a vulnerability that let him delete any comment on Instagram. Jani, a Finnish resident, demonstrated the hack by deleting Justin Bieber's comments on Instagram. He is now a proud owner of a football and a new bike.
Google has also doubled the reward for hackers who are able to identify security vulnerabilities and bugs in Chromebooks to $100,000 (£70,000).