The Hidden Security Risks Of An Instagram Selfie
Officially launched in 2010, Instagram has since been taken over by Mark Zuckerberg and is the go-to platform for sharing content and catching up on the latest trends. There are many features included in the service offering editing filters for your photographs, messaging, location display as well as the ability to tag individuals in your images.
The Security Risks
Classic phishing attacks have left countless people vulnerable with as many as 70,000 users hacked. Cybercriminals hack Instagram accounts and steal compromising material from users, asking for money in return for these scandalous images.
The attacks work by hackers sending you an email that appears to be from Instagram asking you to verify your account. As soon as you click ‘Verify Account’, you are then redirected to a phishing website where you are asked to enter your details.
The moment this happens the hackers have all of your information as well as the ability to completely lock you out of your account.
This not only affects regular users but also celebrities and large companies worldwide. A successful ransomware attack could mean a user forks over as much as $30,000 or $40,000 at once. Even though many people will pay to get their files back, this doesn’t necessarily ensure that it will happen.
If you use Instagram, you should know that your account can be hacked by a forgotten password hack, phishing, coding, CheatDroid as well as many other third-party applications out there. So, with billions of users worldwide, what is the solution?
What Can You Do To Prevent an Instagram Data Breach
There are a number of steps that you can take to ensure that your Instagram account doesn’t get hacked.
Lock Away Your Passwords with a Password Manager
In order to make sure your Instagram account doesn’t get hacked you need a great password to keep your data under lock and key. This means not using identifiable dates or names, including birthdays, phone numbers, addresses or the names of your other half and your most loved four-legged friends.
A great password manager will be able to optimize your password by using random words, symbols, and numbers as well as a mixture of upper and lower case letters to make sure your password is bulletproof.
You will only have the one password to remember, the master password. That’s it. It will allow you to securely access all your other passwords which are locked away in a vault.
A password manager will generate passwords for you which means there is zero risk any of them will relate to you specifically in any way. Each of your login profiles will have a different random password applied, which means that even if one of your accounts is hacked, there will not be a domino effect happening to the rest of your personal accounts.
Changing your passwords is incredibly easy with a password manager if you are suspicious that something is happening to your account. All you need to do is log into your password manager and select the accounts which need changing. Even if you miss an announcement of an Instagram data breach, you will be sure that your passwords are safe.
Password protection is made simple as long as you know the master password. You will be able to download apps for all your devices including your computer, smartphone, and tablet.
Investing in a password manager comes at a small cost, especially when compared to the hefty amounts demanded by cybercriminals in return for your online data.
Choose Antivirus Protection
Another smart step to take in keeping your Instagram account from being infiltrated by hackers is to find a great antivirus program.
An antivirus will detect possibly spyware, malware, viruses and other threats prior to them actually being able to do any harm to your computer. Additionally, you can rely on antivirus technology to protect you from phishing attempts as well as other cyber threats happening in real-time.
Many such programs will include a two-way firewall that will check all incoming and outgoing data that comes through the internet, blocking anything that is found to be suspicious.
Spam websites are not only annoying, but they can also be very dangerous. Did you know that most viruses are executed via spam websites? These can lead to huge financial losses and identity theft.
Some antivirus programs will also include password protection, so you can get two services in one. Leading antivirus providers will also incorporate live updates which will regularly refresh the software. You can also schedule full or partial scans manually so that your devices can get checked whilst you’re sleeping.
Just like any other program, it is vital to remember to update your antivirus as soon as you get a notification to do so. This will ensure your AV is capable of recognizing the most current threats on the internet at the time.
In addition to being able to use Instagram without worrying about hackers getting their hands on your data, you will also be able to shop securely as well as complete banking transactions.
If you frequently torrent, you will know that many of these files that are available for downloading are often infected with malware and other viruses. Prior to downloading any files, they will be checked and you will be notified that they are safe before any possible threats affect your system.
Invest in a VPN
To round off your internet security needs, users should also look to a VPN for complete anonymity online.
A Virtual Private Network or VPN is able to reroute your online traffic through to a server in virtually any location in the world. This means your online data is untraceable and inaccessible to your ISP, any government agencies and cybercriminals.
Unfortunately, many people in the world live in countries with high censorship such as China and Pakistan. Others, on the other hand, don’t have to worry about censorship, such as people in the United States, but they have to deal with constant monitoring of their online activity.
Keeping your online movements secure and away from prying eyes is also important when it comes to your internet service provider too. It is not uncommon for your ISP to throttle your connection and slow down speeds based on your file downloads as well as streaming activity.
Accessing your Instagram via public wifi hotspots can be a dangerous task, but with a VPN you can use such hotspots without feat of having your information stolen, or taken for ransom.
Instagram is also blocked in various institutions including schools and at work. A VPN will allow you to access your Instagram profile no matter where you are.
So, what should a great VPN entail? You will want to pick a reliable VPN for Instagram with an ample amount of servers that will never leave your connection vulnerable.
An Instagram security breach is not something you need to worry about when you use protocols such as OpenVPN, split tunneling, DNS leak protection, kill switch and military-grade encryption.
It is vital that you have multiple devices covered with your VPN so that you can be sure that your computer, laptop, smartphone, and tablet are protected no matter which platform they use. Many of the best VPNs will be compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux as well as your router and other platforms.
How to Further Protect Yourself on Instagram
Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
If you’re worried that someone might try to login to your Instagram account, make sure to turn on two-factor identification. This way you will be sent a text message each time you log onto your Instagram account with a new device. You will have to type that code into the new device to complete the login process.
Stop Third-Party Apps from Taking Your Data
You may have downloaded apps that schedule Instagram posts for you. Prior to allowing them to access your data make sure you evaluate what information of yours they really need.
To do so, make sure to log into your Instagram using the web as you won’t be able to revoke access to apps with your mobile device.
Check to See if Your Account has been Hacked
Log into your account and check out the Account privacy changes, Password changes as well as Logins, Logouts and Stories Activity. If you notice something that might be unfamiliar to you, it might be that someone has logged into and is misusing your account. Immediately change your password in order to lock them out.
Make Sure to Delete Fake Followers
There are millions of fake follower accounts that are created by bots, with Instagram having a constant issue with this since its inception. Although Instagram taking action by way of a purge, deleting millions of fake accounts, they seem to pop up left, right and center.
These profiles are usually easily spotted as they have little to no information and few friends, however, there are advanced accounts that are filled with fake bios and stolen photographs from other users.
Pete Hunt, the CEO of an online fraud-fighting company, Smyte states that bots can cost you much more than what you gain with an increased number of followers.
“Bots are also used to attack people. The bot may be befriending you so it can send you private messages with spam or phishing attempts.”
If your Instagram is set to public, anyone can see your photos, and there is a heightened risk of bots following you as well as messaging you, stealing your information and your photos.
If you think a bot might be following your account, you should report their profile prior to deleting them.
Conclusion To How Can Instagram Accounts Be Hacked
Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most popular social media platforms in the world at the moment, with billions of people uploading their photos around the world.
The appeal of Instagram is real, with many hoping to make it as an Instagram influencer or blogger, using whatever means necessary to do so. Celebrities also use this forum to gain further public appeal and make fans feel relevant to their lives.
As with many similar communication channels, Instagram doesn’t come without its dangers. Forgotten passwords, phishing scams and fake follower profiles created by bots can all lead to uncomfortable and costly problems.
In order to keep using Instagram safely, there are precautions that you can take.
Change your profile to private if you can in order to stop advanced bots and random hackers from stealing your images. Check your recent logins and privacy settings. Also, make sure to turn on two-factor authentication to ensure that even if someone does get their hands on your password, they cannot log into your account.
Most importantly, invest in a password manager, antivirus program and a VPN. Each of these three services work in their own way to keep you more secure online.
Use Instagram at school and at work with a VPN, or connect to any public wifi hotspot without worrying that hackers will intercept your traffic and get a hold of your sensitive data.
An AV will protect you in real-time from malware, viruses and other online threats including phishing attempts.
Lastly, a password manager will ensure your Instagram password is the strongest it can be, allowing you to randomly change it as you please.