From a small unknown photo-sharing app, Instagram has transformed into a giant social networking and business tool used by millions of people worldwide. With the right strategies and tools, anyone can use Instagram to market products, services, and even their own personal brands.
This is why Instagram accounts have also become valuable assets since they contain a wealth of data and opportunities to influence what people see, eat, buy, and more. It’s not surprising that Instagram hacking has also become a cause of concern.
Read on to know what Instagram hacking is and how you can protect your account from hackers.
We will take a look at the following topics:
What is Instagram hacking?
Instagram hacking is the process of gaining unauthorized access and use of a person’s Instagram account without that owner’s consent. While there are instances of harmless hacking, most hacks are often done to access and exploit the user’s following.
If the user account has thousands to millions of followers, hackers may take over the account to take advantage of the followers. Users can also take over the account and use it as a vehicle for a scam in other cases.
Hackers may access the user’s DMs, private files, and photos and perform any action inside the app. Hackers can delete and post pictures, change account details and even impersonate the user to scam their followers.
Hackers can also take advantage of the user’s app permissions to manipulate their device. Since Instagram often uses camera and location permissions, hackers are free to use the device’s camera and manipulate location data to spy on anyone.
What are some popular techniques used to carry out Instagram Hacks?
1) Fake Giveaways.
Hackers will impersonate popular Instagram accounts and run fake giveaway campaigns that look identical to the campaigns being run by the original account. The hackers will ask you to provide personal details such as credit card information or to click on malicious links in order to access the giveaway.
1) Nasty List.
Nasty List uses compromised IG accounts to send messages to other users, expressing shock that the recipient has been tagged on the Instagram Nasty List. The messages are often convincing enough to get people wondering why they are on the list to click on the link that leads them to a login page. By logging in, hackers get the user’s credentials which they use to take over the account.
2) Phishing emails and messages.
Hackers are now sophisticated enough that they can fake legit-looking emails to gather user account logins. Emails posing as legitimate messages asking users to log in are common and incredibly difficult to differentiate from the real thing. If you are unsure about the origins of an email, examine the URL to see if this is the official Instagram link to avoid an Instagram password hack.
Another popular method is by sending users messages on Instagram itself. The messages look like they come from the Instagram Help Center and contain links for reporting an issue or appeal. These links are actually phishing links asking unsuspecting users to provide their account information. Once the hackers get the information, they can change the user account information, effectively taking over the user’s account.
3) Credential Stuffing.
This is another method where hackers use personal data gathered from other sources to get into a user’s IG account. This method is often a worrying indication that hackers have access to most of your personal information that they can use to compromise other accounts aside from Instagram.
This is one way to hack Instagram account using a .txt file that contains thousands of password combinations that are then automatically tried on to the account. Once a password matches, the hacker gains access to the account and is free to do whatever they want with that access.
5) Malicious Photo Hack.
Bugs on the platform can allow hackers to get access to user accounts. Hackers can send JPEG images to users. Once the file is downloaded and the user opens Instagram, hackers can access their account using a Remote Access Tool. Users can avoid hacks like this by not downloading files and photos sent by people who are not their contacts.
How to tell if someone has hacked my Instagram account?
Depending on what your hacker is doing, you may or may not know that your account has been hacked until it’s too late. Some hackers may go on Ninja mode after hacking your Instagram account. They can lurk around your account in this mode, gathering information and data without you knowing about it. In Ninja mode, compromised users have no idea that they are being monitored online.
If your hacker opts to take over your account, however, you will know it. You may find yourself locked out of your account. Some hackers try to do things gradually, such as posting things or changing your profile and account details. Check your login history to see if your account was logged in from unknown devices and locations. If you notice suspicious logins, report to Instagram immediately and change your password.
How do I protect my Instagram account, so I don't get hacked?
There are various measures you can take to ensure that you don’t get hacked. These include:
Choosing a complicated password.
It is common for people to use details such as their birthdays, high school names, the name of the street they grew up on, their pets, etc. It is always a bad idea to use personally identifiable information as your password. A better option is to use a combination of numbers and passwords, but this too has its fair share of risks if sequential letters or numbers are used. It is important to use passwords that are hard to figure out. Experts often recommend using phrases as your passwords that include letters, numbers, and symbols to make it harder to guess.
Also, longer passwords are better since they are harder to crack using Bruteforce attack techniques. Another recommended option is to take advantage of a password manager tool to manage and secure your passwords.
Turning on Two-Factor authentication.
Instagram offers the option to use Two-Factor authentication that can be turned on or off. This is done with the use of a third-party authenticator application. This feature can be accessed under SETTINGS, PRIVACY, and SECURITY. This type of authentication uses two steps to verify your information. Users are required to choose a security method that involves the use of a downloadable authenticator app. Instagram then links up with the app. Every time a user tries to access their Instagram account this app will generate a unique code. Only if the user provides their password and this unique code will they be granted access to their Instagram account.
Another way to authenticate your logins is with your mobile number. Register your phone number to receive one-time access codes sent by Instagram every time you log in to your account. Since the codes are only passed between the user and Instagram, this is a great way to ensure that only authorized users can access their accounts.
Changing passwords regularly.
Change your passwords regularly. This is an added safeguard that will make your account almost impossible to hack. Change your passwords every three months, even if you are using complicated passwords. You can use a secure password storage app to keep track of your passwords for easy retrieval.
Avoiding phishing emails.
Finally, avoid phishing scams. Phishing scams are often done by making you believe that you are entering your login credentials into a legitimate site. Hackers often set up web pages or dummy applications to look identical to the actual website or application. The purpose of this is to trick the user into entering their username and password combinations which the hackers then use to hijack their Instagram account. Before opening any links or emails and before you input your account login, check to make sure that the page is on a legitimate site by looking at the URL.
What to do if my Instagram account has been hacked?
If you were unlucky enough to get your IG account hacked, knowing, the first few steps could make the difference between getting your account back and losing it for good. Knowing what to do can be extremely important, especially if your business relies on social media for marketing.
If you have just been hacked, notify Account Recovery immediately. This is the Instagram user support portal, and in many cases, they can help you recover your account. It would be best if you did this immediately after discovering the hack before hackers have time to cause irreversible damage to your account. Delays in reporting can make it harder to recover your account because your username will have been deemed invalid by Instagram by then.
If the first option was not successful, the next step is to report the hacking. Go to the Instagram website, fill up the report form using your account details, choose My Account was Hacked and request support. Instagram will get back to you to verify identity for added security, usually through the use of a one-time passcode and a real-time selfie coming from you holding the code.
Never try to negotiate with hackers if they try to extort you in exchange for your account. Hackers often have no intention of restoring stolen accounts. The best choice is to inform Instagram of the breach so they can render the account inaccessible to the hacker.
Instagram hacking is not uncommon, and you may very well be a target, especially if you enjoy a sizable following on the platform. Even if you are just a regular user, you wouldn’t want strangers peeking into your Instagram or, worse, taking over completely.
I’d like to conclude by saying that like with any account, it is crucial to keep your account secure using passwords that are difficult to figure out. Do regular password changes, and be careful about opening strange emails and links. Most importantly, you need to take advantage of built-in security features like Two-Factor Authentication. All these working together create a multi-layered protection that will make hackers think twice about messing with your account. Get these protective measures up and running today so you can keep on using Instagram without any worries.