Instagram Account Hacked? What to Do if This Happened and How to Prevent This
Imagine you’ve logged into your Instagram account to scroll your feed, upload a new picture, or respond to your friend’s message. But this time it’s all different, as you learn that you have been encouraging your friends to invest in a fake crypto scheme. Most likely, this is your first time hearing about it yourself, so the situation seems… well, strange to you.
So, how did you end up like this? Most likely, your Instagram account has been hacked.
The thing is that Instagram is among the most vulnerable applications in terms of security, and its users often suffer from scams, hacks, and data leaks. According to the latest statistics, nearly 85% of people, whose social media was compromised in 2022, mainly reported problems with their Instagram accounts. So whether your Instagram account was hacked or you want to prevent this from happening, read on to learn how to protect yourself.
How to know if your Instagram has been hacked
First of all, let’s find out how to determine if your Instagram has fallen victim to a hack. Here are the main warning signs pointing to a compromised Instagram account.
- You cannot enter your account while the login and password you’re entering are correct.
- Somebody else uploads images to your account or sends DMs to your followers.
- You’re following unknown Instagram profiles.
- You get tons of spam in your feed.
- Your followers receive DMs with potentially infected links from you, but you never sent those messages.
- Your personal details (name, email, phone number, and so on) have been changed without you knowing.
- You’ve got an email from Instagram telling you that your password has been changed, but you’re not the one who changed it.
Pro tip: Do not trust all emails pretending to be sent by the official Instagram support, especially those containing suspicious links. This may be a phishing attempt. Never click on provided links before checking if the email is legit. To learn more about how to protect yourself from Instagram phishing, read our recent blog post.
If you encountered any of the red flags listed above, your Instagram account could have been attacked by hackers. But don’t panic. There are still a few things you can do to save the day.
What to do if your Instagram account was hacked
Here is how you can protect your personal information, regain access to your account, and report the problem in case your Instagram was hacked.
- Change your credentials. If you’re lucky and still can log into your account, the first thing to do is to change your password.
- Request a login link. Alternatively, if you cannot enter your account with your credentials, you may try to log in by tapping “Get help logging in” on Android or “Forgot your password?” on an iOS device. After entering some additional personal information (email, phone number, and such), you may try logging in through the provided link.
- Verify your personal information in account settings. If you’ve noticed some suspicious activity in your Instagram account but still can access it, check if your personal information (name, phone number, email, and so on) remained unchanged.
- Stop using potentially malicious apps. Third-party apps connected to your Instagram may be the source of many troubles. Some of them may compromise your credentials and hand them over to hackers. So make sure to uninstall suspicious applications from your device.
- Report the hack. If none of the methods described above worked for you, it’s worth reporting your problem to Instagram. Soon afterward, you will have to go through identity verification to recover your hacked account.
- Use Instagram Account Recovery. After tapping the “Get help logging in” (Android) or “Forgot your password?” (iOS) button on the Instagram login page, select “Need More Help?” > “Try Another Way” > “Get Support.” Then, head to the “My Account Was Hacked” section. If you have a photo of yourself in your account, you can record a video with your face. If it matches your photos, Instagram will contact you and explain how to get your account back.
Unfortunately, Instagram hacks are becoming more and more common these days. In fact, according to a recent Identity Theft Resource Center report, only about 30% of them managed to recover their accounts. So it’s better to safeguard yourself and do your best to prevent a potential attack and make sure you won’t lose access to your Instagram.
How to avoid being hacked on Instagram
Luckily, there are some ways to protect your account from potential threats. Here is how to prevent an Instagram hack.
1. Create a strong password
Come up with a password that will be difficult to crack. A good password should contain letters (both upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters. Also, it’s important not to use simple combinations of letters and numbers related to your personal data (dates, names, and so on).
To make sure your password is reliable, use a password manager tool like LastPass, MacPass, or Keeper. Such software will help you generate strong passwords and store your credentials in a safe place. Moreover, in case you’re redirected to an evil twin of Instagram, a password manager app won’t autofill your credentials, as it will not recognize the fake URL address of a shady website.
Here are several extra tips on keeping your password away from cybercriminals.
- Regularly change your password
- Never share your password with third parties
- Do not use the same password for different platforms and apps
- Do not fill out forms on suspicious websites or apps since they may appear to be phishing traps
2. Check emails sent by Instagram
If you’ve got a security alert or any other kind of message pretending to be sent by the official Instagram support, do not immediately trust it. Why? Imagine you’ve received an email from Instagram telling you that your password has been changed. To regain access to your account, you should immediately click on the provided link.
But guess what? The official Instagram support has never sent this message. In fact, it’s a phishing trap that wants to persuade you to click on a malicious link and share your private data with hackers. And once you do, they can break into your account.
To protect yourself from this threat, always verify who’s the actual sender of the email. In our example, it’s [email protected], while the official Instagram support address is [email protected]. Another way to check email’s authenticity is to click Support on the official Instagram website, find Privacy and Safety Center, and report your problem.
3. Stay away from phishing links
Unfortunately, phishing links can be hidden not only in emails, but anywhere else. A scammer may try to compromise you through Instagram DMs, social media posts, malicious pop-ups, “bait and switch” ads, and so on. For instance, here is an example of a smishing (SMS phishing) attempt. A message contains a malicious link pretending to be getting you back to your Instagram account. But in fact, it likely leads to a shady website striving to steal your data.
That is why it’s critical to stay away from potentially dangerous links and never, ever click them. Here are several extra tips in this regard:
- Block suspicious accounts that have followed you
- Do not respond to strangers’ messages that contain links, too-good-to-be-true offers, and tempting deals
- Do not participate in unverified Instagram giveaways
- Do not click on links pretending to redirect you to Instagram from other websites and social media platforms
4. Change your Instagram privacy settings
As you probably know, Instagram allows users to limit access to their accounts and control who can see their posts, stories, and other content. Although making your Instagram private will not prevent brute-force hacking attacks, it will reduce the risk of facing scams, social engineering tricks, fishy messages, and infected links.
Here is how to make your Instagram account private:
- Tap the menu icon (three horizontal lines) at the bottom left corner of the screen
- Go to Settings
- Choose the Privacy and Security section
- Below Account Privacy, enable the box next to Private Account
Of course, this is not an option for bloggers and influencers. But if you don’t spend much time on Instagram and use it just to communicate with your friends, colleagues, and family, you can protect yourself this way.
Another important thing to do is to enable two-factor authentication (2FA). This feature will require an extra authentication step to enter your account from another device. In other words, every time somebody tries to log in to your account, they will need to type a security code sent to your device via SMS, email, or else. Here is how to turn on 2FA on Instagram.
- Tap the menu icon at the bottom left of your screen
- Head to Settings
- Select Privacy and Security
- Find Two-factor authentication and tap Edit Two-factor authentication setting
- Choose the security method you want to use (authentication app, text message, or WhatsApp).
5. Do not connect your Instagram to Facebook
Ever since Instagram was acquired by Meta in 2012, these two social networking platforms have become closely related to each other. In particular, you can link your Instagram and Facebook accounts to share files and posts across both apps with ease.
Though it may seem convenient at first, this may not be a good idea because of potential security challenges. The thing is that if cybercriminals manage to compromise your Facebook account, they will instantly get access to your Instagram as a bonus.
6. Use a VPN
To avoid an Instagram hack and protect your device from other potential threats, it’s a good idea to adopt a powerful cybersecurity solution. And here, a VPN (virtual private network) is your best bet. VPNs are well-known for their ability to spoof your IP address and enhance your Internet privacy. But in fact, they also shield users from various online dangers and can keep your Instagram account safe.
The main benefit of a VPN is that it encrypts your traffic when moving it through a remote server. It prevents hackers and snoopers from monitoring your activities and accessing your sensitive information. What’s more, reputable VPN providers offer numerous powerful security features that help users keep away from phishing websites, malware-infected links, and other dangers.
For example, if you enter your Instagram account when connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, a hacker can try to steal your credentials. They put themselves between your device and a public network it’s connected to. As a result, all of your traffic may appear in the hacker’s trap. A VPN helps you safeguard yourself from such a threat, known as a man-in-the-middle attack, by encrypting your data and making it impossible to crack.
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How are accounts getting hacked on Instagram?
There are numerous tricks, schemes, and malicious techniques cybercriminals may use to compromise your Instagram account. The most common methods applied by hackers are emails or messages containing phishing links, as well as man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks and different types of online scams. To learn how to protect your Instagram account from hacking, read this article.
How to know if your Instagram has been hacked?
There are several warning signs that indicate your Instagram account has likely been hacked:
- You cannot enter your account
- Somebody else uploads images to your account
- Your followers receive suspicious messages from you
- Your feed is full of spam
For more details, read this article.
Can you report a hacked account to Instagram?
Yes, you can report a hacked account to Instagram by contacting the support team. For that, open the Instagram app on your device, tap “Get help logging in” (Android) or “Forgot your password?” (iOS), and select “Need More Help?” > “Try Another Way” > “Get Support.” Then, head to the “My Account Was Hacked” section and follow the instructions.
How do I get my Instagram account back?
If your Instagram account is hacked, you can try to get it back by requesting to recover your account. For that, tap Get help logging in or Forgot your password? Next, report the problem to Instagram support, and verify your identity by taking a video selfie to confirm your identity.