How to Protect Your Instagram Account from Being Hacked
In the wake of an apparent “hacking spree” on Instagram, a lot of people are wondering how to protect their Instagram accounts from being hacked.
Getting hacked is certainly a scary situation to be in — especially if you’re a business that relies on Instagram to make sales or generate leads!
So what can you do to protect your Instagram account? In the following post, we outline 5 important strategies to keep your account secure and out of hackers’ hands:
Hundreds of Instagram Accounts Hacked in August
On August 13th, Mashable published an article detailing how hundreds of Instagram accounts had been hacked since the beginning of the month.
According to the article, users in multiple countries were experiencing the same bizarre hack: they’d been logged out of Instagram, their usernames and profile pictures were changed, and the contact information linked to their account was changed to a Russian .ru email address.
@instagram Hi my Instagram has not just been hacked but completely taken over by someone else, your automated help system does not help me in this, please can you advise on appropriate action to take
— Victoria Butler (@vj_bone) August 21, 2018
And while Instagram quickly commented that they hadn’t noticed an uptick in hacks in August, a quick search on Twitter for “Instagram hacked” reveals hundreds of Instagram users complaining that they’ve recently been locked out of their accounts.
This prompted Instagram to publish an article the following day acknowledging the hack and offering advice to affected users on how to recover their accounts (if your account was compromised, we recommend checking out Instagram’s guide ASAP).
While we’re still unsure of how the hacks occurred, it’s probably a good time to review your Instagram account’s security. Here are 5 tips to protect your Instagram account from being hacked:
#1: Pick a Strong Password
The most obvious tip on our list also happens to be the most important.
One of the most common ways that hackers break into accounts is by guessing passwords or by using old passwords that were compromised in data breaches (we recommend using the free tool Have I Been Pwned? to check if any of your passwords have been stolen). So the importance of a strong, complex password can’t be overstated.
While Instagram recommends using a “combination of at least six numbers, letters, and punctuation marks,” most security experts suggest a minimum password length of 8 characters.
You should also consider updating your Instagram password regularly — at least once or twice a year according to most experts. You may even want to use a password manager to keep track of and manage your passwords.
#2: Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
Nearly all major applications now provide some form of two-factor authentication (or 2FA), and this includes Instagram.
With two-factor authentication turned on, whenever you log into Instagram from an unrecognized device, you’ll be prompted to enter an SMS security code, along with your username and password. This can help thwart any attempts by hackers to log into your account and change your contact information.
To turn two-factor authentication on, head to your Instagram profile and tap the settings button. Then scroll down and tap Two-Factor Authentication.
Tap the slider to the “on” position.
If your account doesn’t have a confirmed phone number, you’ll be asked to enter one. Once you’ve entered your phone number, tap the next button.
Now when you log into your Instagram account from an unknown device, you’ll be prompted to enter a security code that you receive by SMS.
UPDATE: In light of the hacks, Instagram recently announced a more robust two-factor authentication system that now lets you use third-party authenticator apps to log into your Instagram account.
To use a third-party app to log into your Instagram account, go to your profile, tap the menu icon, select “Settings” at the bottom and then choose “Two-Factor Authentication.”
Next, select “Authentication App” as your preferred form of authentication.
If you already have an authentication app installed, Instagram will automatically find the app and send a login code to it. You’ll need to retrieve the code and enter it on Instagram, and two-factor authentication will turn on automatically.
If you don’t have an authentication app, head to the App Store or Google Play Store to download one first and then proceed with setting up two-factor authentication.
#3: Make Sure Your Email Account is Secure
Your email is a bit like a gateway to your online accounts — if someone has access to it, they also have access to nearly everything else you’ve used your email for… So make sure it’s secure!
Most email providers have systems in place to block unwanted login attempts and offer security measures like email encryption and two-factor authentication. If you truly want to keep your Instagram account safe, you need to make sure your email account is equally as safe.
#4: Revoke Access to Suspicious Third-Party Apps
To manage your third-party apps, open your Instagram profile on your desktop computer, click the settings button, and then click on “Authorized Apps.”
Here you’ll find a list of apps that you’ve authorized to access your profile and account information. If you notice anything strange, you can easily click revoke third-party app access by clicking the Revoke Access button.
#5: Extra Security Tips
While the above tips should be enough to keep your account secure, here are a few more ways you can stay safe:
The first is to remember to log out of Instagram whenever you use a shared computer or phone. And if you log into Instagram from a public computer, make sure to not check the “Remember Me” box, as this will keep you logged in even after you close the browser.
The second is to never give your password to someone you don’t know or trust. This one’s fairly obvious, but one of the most common ways that hackers gain access to people’s accounts is through “phishing.”
How phishing attacks work is hackers will send you an email that contains a link to a fake Instagram login page. When you log in with your email and password, they get your credentials.
To prevent this from happening to you, make sure you have two-factor authentication turned on and always vet the legitimacy of the emails you receive.
The third tip is to be more wary of the accounts you follow on Instagram. And thanks to a new About This Account tool, you can do just that.
With About This Account, you can now see more information about accounts on Instagram that reach large audiences. That way, you can evaluate the authenticity of the account before following it.
To learn more about an account, go to their Profile, tap the “…” button and then select “About This Account.”
There, you will see the date the account joined Instagram, the country where the account is located, accounts with shared followers, any username changes in the last year and any ads the account is currently running.
With the number of Instagram accounts that were recently hacked reaching into the thousands, it’s super important that you take the right steps to secure your account and protect yourself against hackers. Let us know in the comments if you have any other strategies to keep your account safe!
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