Billions of people share their stories and connect with their friends through Instagram, which cyber crooks are well aware of. Want to protect your Instagram account and enjoy the platform without worries? Then follow our five simple safety tips!
1. Use a Strong Password
Passwords are only as secure as we make them. It takes hackers seconds to go through the most common ones, making them useless. Someone who follows your account could also guess your password from your activity if it’s something like a pet’s name, your car model, etc.
Your password needs to be long and contain capital letters, special characters, and numbers. Ideally, every secure password should follow this format, especially the one you use for the email your Instagram uses. Rather than try to remember or write down such passwords, you should install a password manager.
Password managers are great for keeping track of and creating the kinds of passwords hackers can’t crack. You can store, generate, and update unlimited secure passwords, plus store other confidential info in the manager’s vault.
2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
A good password still isn’t 100% foolproof. Someone could use social engineering to get you to give it up, for example. Luckily, Instagram’s security settings let you set up two-factor authentication. That way, no one can log in from new devices if they don’t also enter a second code.
You can set the code up to arrive via SMS or use an authenticator app. Password managers also offer 2FA, so consider enabling it there instead if you suspect someone compromised the account already.
3. Check for Suspicious Activity and Settings
While locking your account down is an effective security measure, there’s little you can do against attacks that target Instagram directly. It’s been the victim of several data breaches already, which resulted in the theft of millions of usernames, addresses, and other sensitive information.
Compromised accounts often begin acting strangely. You need to take immediate action if you see you’re suddenly following people you don’t know or your friends keep getting messages you didn’t send. A password change and 2FA are a good start, but you’ll also want to check your account settings for suspicious additions.
Specifically, make sure your phone number and email address are the only ones listed in the “Personal Information settings” tab and remove any unknown ones. Hackers might also try to bypass account recovery by using attached payment methods or linked Meta accounts. Go over these in the “Payments” and “Meta Accounts Center” sections to address any changes you didn’t make.
4. Inform Yourself about Scams and Phishing Emails
The threats we’ve discussed so far come from outside. Sadly, Instagram itself is rife with fraudsters who’ll use all sorts of methods to harm you. Scams on the platform abound, ranging from fake promotions and sponsorship deals to romance scams and bogus prizes. While diverse, all want to take advantage of you by asking for information that could compromise your Instagram account or your finances.
Phishing is a similar social engineering strategy that targets the email associated with your account. The scammers pose as friends, potential sponsors, or official Instagram representatives. They’ll offer an exciting opportunity or claim something is wrong with your account. Either way, the email usually sounds urgent and has you clicking links that take you to another website.
That site may look official and usually prompts you to fill out a form or submit a ticket. The hackers then have access to any information you enter, including your Instagram account info.
You can prevent this by reading up on how to recognize and prevent phishing. Cyber crooks love shaking things up, so keep tabs on the latest threats so you’re in the know.
5. Avoid Logging In via Public Wi-Fi
Don’t let the urge to check on friends’ stories from anywhere, anytime – this very much could become your account’s downfall.
Using your cell phone data plan and the Instagram app you’re already logged into is fine. However, you should avoid logging into Instagram from others’ devices, especially if you connect to public Wi-Fi. Hackers can intercept such logins and any other online activity through man-in-the-middle attacks and steal your credentials.
Only use secure connections to log into Instagram and any other important accounts. If you can’t avoid using public networks, at least secure the connection first with a trustworthy VPN.
These are the best practices for keeping your Instagram account safe. In the end, it’s all about you taking care of your online information and not making yourself an easy target for cybercriminals.