How Does Instagram Know What My Password Is on Other Websites?
With nearly 1 billion active users Instagram is one of the biggest and most popular social media on the planet. Since its inception by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010 and its acquisition by Facebook in 2012, it has skyrocketed in popularity from just 10 million iOS users in the first month (not an insignificant number in itself) to over 800 million in 2017. That's an astonishing 8000% increase! But with that kind of insane popularity comes a price. Instagram is a video and image-sharing platform after all, which makes it an incredibly lucrative target for both hackers looking to get some dirt and the frustrated, lonely "incels".
How do I protect my Instagram account?
There's a whole array of tools, apps, and all kinds of gadgets designed for online security, but it all begins with the trusty password. It's basis for every other protective feature out there, so make sure yours is a sturdy one.
What makes a good password?
First, despite what you may have heard size does matter. A password's length is key due to the uncertainty principle making your password exponentially more difficult to crack with every added character or number. That's why websites usually have a minimum character requirement.
"When looking at passwords in this light, it really starts to become clear how much more important the password length is, as opposed to the defined complexity requirements. To further this point, if you're using passwords with a character set of 10 (only numbers), in order to achieve the same amount of entropy as a character set of 94 (all possible ASCII characters), you only have the double the password's length. To say it another way, a password that is 16 characters long made up of only numbers provides the same level of difficultly-to-crack as an 8 character password made up of the possible 94 possible characters," a Microsoft TechNet blog says.
Length isn't enough, unfortunately. You need complexity as well. Long passwords are all
well and good, but if they're made of existing words, names or phrases they can easily be hacked by malware using dictionary-style attacks. It's important to use upper and lower case letters as well as symbols and numbers to minimize the chance of a breach.
My passwords are secure but Instagram knows my passwords from other websites?
When a website is hacked, suffers a data leak, or is otherwise compromised, it can sometimes result in someone posting lists of the leaked usernames and passwords combinations somewhere, usually on the Dark Web. Anyone can have access to that list, including Instagram employees. They can use it to check if any of their clients were affected, by comparing the email addresses from the hacked accounts to the email addresses of Instagram users. That way Instagram can determine whether the affected users used the same passwords on their Instagram. Fundamentally you can take this as an Instagram worker finding a leaked list of usernames and passwords somewhere and attempting to log into Instagram with each and every one. If you're among the unlucky ones you should receive an email informing you of your compromised username and password.