How Instagram Accounts Get Hacked and How to Protect Yourself
Whether you're an Instagram personality or just a regular person using the platform to document snippets of your life, your account's security comes first. Just last month, Forbes noted that multiple Instagram users are reporting hacking attempts by attackers who seem to know their passwords. While a platform such as Instagram might not be able to ensure their database security at all times, you, the user, should do your part as well.
Passwords, that's what it comes down to. Everyone uses them; unfortunately, not everybody knows how to use them the right way.
Here, we'll showcase how you can tell if your Instagram account is hacked, how cyber crooks can hack Instagram accounts, and how you can use a password generator and a password manager to protect yourself.
Indications that your Instagram account is hacked
- You're unable to login to your account
- You're following unknown accounts
- Your account leaves comments that you didn't write
- New posts appear on your account that you didn't post
Commonly used strategies to hack Instagram accounts
Keyloggers are infamous among virtual security professional and enthusiast. They've been around for forever while maintaining their prevalence. Designed to log each keystroke such devious applications work wonders for cyber crooks who are after your passwords, email credentials, credit card data, and other sensitive information. With the help of a keylogger cyber crooks can hack Instagram accounts in mere seconds.
- Brute force attacks
A vast number of users tend to use weak passwords. This, of course, is because a majority of people are not acquainted with the idea of a secure password. During a brute force attack, cyber crooks hack Instagram accounts by bombarding the login page with tons of possible passwords until there's a match. As research shows, passwords such as "123456," "qwerty," "asdfgh," can be cracked in under a second.
- Dictionary attacks
Dictionary attacks can be considered a somewhat more sophisticated version of brute force attacks. Instead of blindly bombarding the login page, such attacks take their chances with most commonly used passphrases to hack Instagram accounts.
- Phishing attacks
Phishing, just like keylogging has been around for years, and it's maintained its popularity. In most instances, it follows a simple pattern. First, cyber crooks set up a copy-cat website. Then, they send you an email with a link leading to the hoax site. In most instances, the subject line reads something along the lines of "Security issues, enter your username and password to authorize the account." Once you click the devious link, it redirects you to a malicious site, which might seem like an authentic Instagram login page; however, by entering your credentials, all you're doing is handing them over to cyber crooks.
Recommendations to secure your Instagram account from getting it hacked
- Use a password generator
As mentioned previously, brute force attacks and dictionary attacks work because a vast number of users use poorly constructed passwords. Most security professionals agree that a strong password should contain at least 12 characters, should consist of capital letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, your password shouldn't be a dictionary word; however, poor substitutions such as "H0r5e" instead of "Horse" are known to be vulnerable as well. This is where we recommend using a password generator. Most, if not all, password managers provide a built-in password generator, which you can use to create a unique and complex password for any online account you wish. Cyclonis provides a great password generator with a variety of options to choose from when creating a password. You can select the type of password that you want and its length; additionally, it has a complexity indicator, which comes in handy.
- Use a password manager
According to data from the GWI Social report from analysts at GlobalWebIndex, an Internet user has at least 7 active social media accounts and those 16 to 34 years old have eight or more. According to a report from LastPass, the average business employee has to keep track of over 100 passwords. Let's face it, remembering each complex password for each account, even if you have less than 10 of them, is flat out impossible. That is precisely the reason password managers have emerged, and are here to stay. By using Cyclonis, you'll need a single master password, while all other login credentials will be safely stored in an encrypted vault. It also offers a browser extension, which means that you won't even have to enter those tricky passwords by hand. If you take virtual security seriously, a password manager is a way to go.
- Don't reuse passwords
Statistics show that only a vast minority of users use unique passwords for each of their online accounts. If you're one of those users, you're an easy victim. If cybercrooks gain access to login credentials used on one site, it is more than likely that the same info will grant them access to your other accounts. By using a password generator in combination with a password manager, you will limit the chances for cyber crooks to hack your Instagram account.
- Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of protection, which has been around for years, yet came into standard practice recently. Most social media platforms allow you to set it up. It works in a rather straightforward fashion. If it's enabled, along with your username and password, you'll have to enter a verification code, which is usually sent to your mobile device. Thus, even if someone gets a hold of your login credentials, they won't be able to access your account without the verification code.
- Use an antimalware tool
A professional antimalware tool is a must-have these days since it's designed to recognize and remove any malicious application. On top of that, it provides overall system security at all times; it can inform you about any suspicious website beforehand. There's a wide variety of such tools; thus, your choice is not limited.
There're ways that cyber crooks use to hack Instagram accounts that we discussed in the article. However, it should be self-evident that a strong password (preferably one created with a password generator) is of utmost importance. No one is protected from cyber attacks a 100%, but you can make your online life a lot easier and safer by using a password manager along with a password generator while making sure that your computer is well protected.