Instagram is one of the most popular social media apps, so of course is a big target for cybercriminals who want to hack into accounts.
So how can fraudsters hack into your Instagram profile? What are the consequences of this happening? And what can you do to secure your Instagram account?
How Cybercriminals Hack Someone’s Instagram Account
Accounts can be hacked in several ways. Social engineering can be used to manipulate users whose accounts are susceptible to attacks.
These are the most common methods of hacking Instagram profiles.
If you have a virus on your computer, your login details may be saved when you log into your account. You might have downloaded malicious software by clicking on a suspicious link or downloaded an attachment from an unsolicited email.
Numerous fraudulent websites use phishing tactics to learn passwords or encourage people to sign up to access accounts.
Determined cybercriminals can target accounts to crack them, but obviously the software they use is illegal in most countries. In some cases, the software itself is fraudulent too, used to trick people who want to get into someone else’s profile into falling victim themselves.
If you have authorized a third-party app that has access to your account and they are subsequently hacked, your information could be compromised too.
This is possible through Instagram integrations, as well as linked platforms such as Facebook.
If you use the same password for another account and it’s part of a data leak, cybercriminals could hack into your account using this same password.
Similarly, having a security question with an answer that is too easy to guess means someone could gain access to your account.
Access To Device
If you automatically log in to your Instagram account on your phone or computer and someone else has access to that device, they can log in and hack your account.
Having access to your email or phone could provide a hacker with the verification code they need to log in to your account if they don’t know the password. Alternatively, there is a recovery code if the verification cannot be delivered due to connectivity issues.
That can be a big problem if someone else has access to the device that’s registered for Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) too.
Some users have reported receiving a direct message on Instagram regarding a copyright infringement. This is an example of a phishing scam, which provides the user with a link which hackers use to trick you into handing over your login credentials.
In other instances, users are asked to share their personal information for a reason which appears to be legitimate but isn’t—for instance, supposedly offering verification for your profile.
What Happens When Your Instagram Account Is Hacked?
The reason for the hack and the methodology used will determine what happens when an account is hacked. In cases where the hacker is someone close to you, you may not notice any changes to your account if it was done solely to spy on you.
In cases where professional cybercriminals have hacked Instagram profiles, there may be significant changes to the account and its accessibility. These users will likely find themselves locked out of the account. If someone else controls it, they can change the passwords to keep you locked out of the account.
In some cases, hackers demand a ransom for the account. In other cases, the usernames and images may be altered. Hackers often sell off accounts with many followers or hijack specific usersnames to make profits.
What To Do if Your Instagram Is Hacked
Instagram’s security features have been strengthened in response to user accounts being hacked. These changes make it more difficult for hackers to access accounts and easier for users who have been hacked to reclaim their accounts.
When your account is hacked, you can report it to Instagram. They will record all of the details, examine the case, and assist in getting the service restored as quickly as possible.
If you have been logged out of your account and the password has been changed, select “My login info isn’t working.” You’ll then be asked to verify your account to be granted access.
When you reach out to the Support team, you will receive an automated response requiring you to verify your identity. Users are asked for the following:
- A photograph of yourself holding a handwritten code they’ve provided you with.
- The email address or phone number linked to your account, as well as the device used when signing up.
Once they have received these verification details, they’ll send instructions on how to recover the account.
Instagram also has a helpful feature that restores deleted posts, stories, and reels. This is based on the app storing your information for 30 days.
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If you suspect that your account has been hacked, but you are still able to log in, take the following steps to secure your account:
- Change your password. Passwords should be unique to Instagram and strong to deter hackers from guessing the correct one.
- Enable two-factor authentication. This requires an extra code when you’re attempting to log into your account; cybercriminals would need access to that device or service to sign in too.
- Confirm that your contact details (email address and phone number) linked to your account are correct. If you get an email regarding unknown changes to your Instagram account, verify that it’s real by trying to log in on a different window. Otherwise, it could be a phishing scam. Contact Instagram separately, without clicking on any suspicious links.
- Check which linked accounts and third-party apps have access to your Instagram. You can do this in the Security section of your Instagram account, which shows your log inactivity. Remove access from suspicious accounts and apps. You can see the geographic locations of where you’re logged in and which devices are being used. If there are any that you do not recognize, you can log out of them.
Stop Your Instagram Account Being Hacked
There are steps you can take to prevent hackers. from gaining access to your account.
These are simply things to do and more than worthwhile: a hacked account can wreak havoc on your privacy and security. Nip it in the bud by taking simple precautions.
Here’s what to do when your Instagram account gets hacked and how to prevent your Instagram account getting hacked in the future.
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