Instagram is a stand-out among social media platforms. It provides users with a unique and appealing way to share snapshots of life’s highlights.
Over the years, this social media giant has also become the go-to platform for influencers. Both mainstream and digital celebrities use it to upload photos. These include pics of events, travels, and favourite designer items.
Brands also favour Instagram to showcase their products and services. The image-driven site lends itself well to fashion labels, food companies, and hotels, among others.
Unfortunately, the popularity of this Facebook-owned network makes it susceptible to security threats. Its growth has attracted online harassers, hackers, and scammers. Now, they run rampant and are undermining the security and safety of the app’s 1 billion active users.
Taking a proactive approach is crucial to keeping your Instagram account secure. And the first step is being aware of the schemes and scams prevalent on the app.
So what are the most common threats you’d find on the site?
Phishing is an online scam linked to identity theft. Phishers use social media sites type to steal sensitive information.
Phishing profiles on Instagram will often resemble the account of a normal user. Many people on Instagram have reported having their profiles cloned. Phishers do this to try and trick that user’s followers into interacting with them.
Hackers prey on unsuspecting Instagram users. People who click on links in DMs; giving out their credentials on uncertified apps and fake web pages.
Damaging Content Posted to the Site
Once a hacker or phisher manages to hack into a user’s account, they can transform that person’s profile into a source of malicious content or spam.
It starts with a strong password. It follows the guidelines given by the photo-based social media app. It also uses the maximum number of characters allowable. Never use references to personal data like birthdates.
Once you’ve chosen a potential password, plug it into How Secure Is My Password for a final check. This will let you know if your password’s strength is enough to withstand a hacking attempt.
If you’d rather not spend time thinking of a good password, consider using tools such as 1Password and LastPass. These password managers auto-generate random, complex passwords. Then, they store these passwords in a virtual vault. Encryption and multiple layers of authentication protect this repository.
Password managers are a win-win. You get secure passwords without having to memorize a long stream of gibberish for every app or site you use.
Make sure to enable two-factor authentication.
Using a second form of authentication prevents hackers from accessing your account remotely. Even if they manage to get your password, they will need to have physical access to your connected device for it to work.
Below are steps you can follow in setting up two-factor authentication on Instagram (2FA).
- Go to your profile and tap on the hamburger icon ().
- Then, select the Settings menu (top of the pop-up on iOS, bottom-right on Android). Once there, tap Security before getting to Two-Factor Authentication and Get Started.
- Lastly, you can choose to set up 2FA through text message or an independent authentication app. One such app is Google Authenticator.
Track your third-party apps and revoke access to suspicious ones.
You can easily use Instagram to log in to another app or make purchases. You could have used it to sign up for a photo editing app or play online games, then forgot you granted them access.
Keep an eye on these apps and sites. Check them regularly to avoid racking up suspicious third-party apps. When in doubt, revoke access.
Here’s a handy guide to managing your third-party applications.
- Open your Instagram profile on your desktop computer.
- Click the settings button and then on “Apps and Website.” You’ll find a list of apps that you’ve given access.
- If you notice any suspicious apps, you can easily click the “Revoke Access” or “View and edit” button.
Make your account private and disable your activity status.
Anyone on Instagram can see the pictures and videos you post by default. It’s always safer to interact with people you already know on the platform.
You can do this by setting our account to private. In doing so, Google also won’t index any of your photos to Google Images.
You can also filter new followers before they can even check out your images or videos. Only followers you’ve approved will be able to find your posts through search. They are the only ones who can see which posts you’ve liked and send you direct messages.
There’s also an Activity Status feature on the app. This allows people to see when you are actively using the app.
But, this feature can be a bit invasive when you don’t want to deal with people at times. Go to the Settings of your account to turn this off. Then, tap on Privacy before going to Activity Status and toggling the option off.
Instagram Takes Action
Since its humble beginnings, Instagram has been questioned about its user safety. In July 2021, it announced the implementation of the Security Checkup.
This new feature aims to keep people’s accounts secure. It also guides those whose accounts may have been hacked. They only need to go through the steps provided to secure them.
Enable the Security Checkup on your own account and follow the tips provided above. Then, you can rest easy that you won’t fall prey to hackers and schemers in 2022.