Hacked Instagram Account: Is Your Profile Compromised?

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 29, 2024

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Losing your online accounts to cyber-attacks can be super scary. Some people lose money from it. Other times, you’ll be susceptible to identity theft. But most cybercrime doesn’t always involve bank fraud or AI impersonation. Sometimes, it can be as simple as logging into social media and realizing that you have a hacked Instagram account.

Dealing with a compromised Instagram account can be stressful. On the one hand, you’ll feel anxious about your online identity being manipulated or used to harm others. On the other, it can be challenging to reach out to Instagram and get your account back.

Don’t panic if you suspect your Instagram account has been hacked, don’t panic. Take a step back and read this guide to learn how to tell your account has been hacked. We’ll also run you through some basic security steps to immediately handle the situation.

Anonymous hacker coding on a phone and laptop.

Cybercrime Watch: How Do Instagram Accounts Get Hacked?

Social media accounts get compromised every day. But it’s even more prevalent on Instagram. In a survey conducted in 2021, it showed that 85% of identity theft victims had their Instagram accounts hacked.

But how do Instagram accounts get hacked in the first place? Here are some things to watch out for if you don’t want to end up with a hacked Instagram account:

·   Weak passwords: A rookie mistake when making an Instagram account is choosing login details that others can easily guess. Make sure your password isn’t something people would expect, like your birthday or favorite movie.

·   Phishing emails and messages: One of the most common reasons for getting hacked is receiving a spam email or text with phishing links. These messages are sent by cyber attackers pretending to be friends, companies, or Instagram itself. They will then send you a link requesting your Instagram login details. You think you’re logging onto the app safely, but they steal your information. Always be vigilant on messaging apps by learning how to spot fake text messages.

a hand holding a phone

·   Security breaches on other websites: Weak passwords include those you use for other websites. If those websites have a security breach in their system, your username and password combination will be exposed to cybercriminals.

·   Malicious downloaded software: Some programs you download online, like keyloggers, can contain malware that stores your information elsewhere. Always be careful with applications you download online.

·   Third-party apps: Editing apps and social media planning programs are just some of the third-party apps you might give access to your Instagram account. This is dangerous because hackers behind these apps can access your account.

3 Tell-Tale Signs of a Hacked Instagram Account

It’s relatively easy to spot a hacked Instagram account. Sometimes, the sign is as easy as not being able to access your account with your login details anymore. Hackers will immediately change your password or email address to keep you from logging into your account. But other times, it’s not that obvious.

When keeping your account safe, being skeptical of every fishy thing is important.  Read between the lines to sense whether you’ve fallen victim to weak security and gotten your Instagram account hacked. If you don’t look close enough, you might miss the signs of a compromised Instagram account. Here’s how to tell that your profile has been hacked:

Hacked Instagram Account Sign #1: You Get an Unexpected Email

If you suspect that you’ve been hacked, the first thing Instagram suggests is to check your email. Instagram always emails you about any changes to your account, such as your password or email address.

Look through your inbox to see if you recently got a message from [email protected] about changes like these. You’ve been compromised if it says your email address or password was changed, and you don’t remember changing them.

To undo this change, click “Secure my account” in the email. You could also ask Instagram for a security code or login link from that email to get back access to your hacked Instagram account.

Instagram might also email if they detect login activity from an unfamiliar device. This usually happens when you log in using a new phone or a friend’s laptop. But it could also mean that a hacker is using their device to take control of your account.

The email from Instagram should tell you what device it is and where it is located. If it sounds completely unfamiliar to you, it’s time to take basic security steps to try and regain your account.

Hacked Instagram Account Sign #2: Strange Activity on Your Account

Some hackers don’t ask as fast and don’t change your password after getting hold of your account. This will likely prevent Instagram from alerting you of changes to your account. What they will do, however, is use your account as if it was their own.

If you have a feeling that your account’s been compromised, check the recent activity on it. You can do that by going to your profile’s burger menu and clicking “Your activity.”

Look through your recent likes and comments. If you spot engagements you know you didn’t make, you likely have a hacked Instagram account.

Check your profile as well. Have some of your photos been deleted? Or worse, are there new ones you didn’t make on your feed? Actions like that point to a compromised account.

You should also check the login activity on your account. Here, you’ll find what devices and locations can access your account. If some of these don’t look like yours, it’s a tell-tale sign of a hack.

The Instagram app’s “View activity” button from the home screen.

Hacked Instagram Account Sign #3: You Have DMs You Didn’t Send

Aside from activity on your timeline or other people’s posts, check your Instagram messages. Your account has surely been hacked if you find conversations between “you” and other people you don’t remember.

Hackers steal access to people’s accounts to use their power and influence over their followers. So, they may try to sweet-talk your friends and followers over a direct message. They may bait others with a phishing link or extort money by pretending to be you.

If this happens to you, it might be best to warn friends and followers about this hack. If you feel unsafe posting about it using the hacked Instagram account, turn to other platforms. Let them know that your account has been compromised and not to entertain messages from it until further notice.

Person sending direct messages to a friend

Back on Track: How To Recover Hacked Instagram Account

If you notice one or more of the signs above, act as though you are sure your Instagram account has been hacked. That means you should take basic security steps to ensure the hacker loses control of your account.

Of course, it’s easier to do this if you can still access your account with your login details. Here’s how to recover hacked Instagram accounts if you still have access to your profile:

Change the Password of the Hacked Instagram Account

The first thing you should do when you see unusual activity in your account is change your password. You’re quite lucky if you realize your Instagram account has been hacked before the hacker changes your credentials. Act on it right away by creating a stronger password.

Luckily, changing your Instagram password is easy. Here’s how to do it:

1. On your profile, tap the burger menu and click “Settings.”

2. In the Accounts Center, click “Password and security.”

3. Click “Change password” and enter the current and new password you want to use. Be sure that your password is very strong. Try to include letters, numbers and even special characters to make guessing difficult.

As soon as you change your password, Instagram logs you out of all other devices. That means the hacker will automatically be kicked out of their session on the hacked Instagram account.

They’re led to the login page, where they’ll have to provide the correct login details to reaccess the account. You’ll be safe from further attacks if you have a strong password that they can’t easily guess.

The login page where you should log into your account with your new password.

Activate Two-Factor Authentication

You should also turn on two-factor authentication for additional security. This feature allows one to log into your account only if they use a second platform to confirm the login.

This could be a security code through text or even a third-party authentication app. It’s up to you and what you’re comfortable with. Just ensure your two-factor authentication method is something only you and no one else can access.

Sure, two-factor authentication is an added step that takes extra time each time you log into your account. But it does wonders for your account security. Even if a hacker somehow gets your password again, they won’t be able to get past this extra step.

Here’s how to activate two-factor authentication on Instagram:

1. Click on “Settings” and go to the Accounts center.

2. Click “Password and security” and then “Two-factor authentication.”

3. Select the Instagram profile you want to set it up for.

4. Select the method you prefer. Instagram can now do security codes via text, authentication apps, and WhatsApp confirmations.

Remove Access From Third-Party Apps and Unknown Devices

To be extra safe, consider revoking third-party apps’ access to the hacked Instagram account. These apps see a lot of information about your profile, which could lead to another hack in the future. Here’s how to disconnect your account from these unwanted apps:

1. Click the burger menu on your Instagram profile and go to your account’s “Settings.”

2. click “Apps and Websites” in the Accounts center and then go to “Active.” You’ll see all the third-party apps your account is currently connected to here.

3. Pick and choose among the apps which you want to remove.

While you’re at it, end the current sessions of this account on unknown devices. That way, sessions that might be running on a hacker’s device are terminated immediately. Check your “Trusted devices” in the Accounts center to eliminate unknown devices from the list.

How To Report Instagram Account Hack if You’ve Lost Access

Reporting an Instagram account hack gets trickier if you’ve completely lost access to your account. This happens when the cyber-attacker works quickly and immediately changes your email address and password.

But don’t worry—not all hope is lost if you’ve lost access to your hacked Instagram account. Report the hack to Instagram immediately so their team can help you immediately. You can request assistance from Instagram after a hack here.

Instagram will ask you for additional steps to prove that you are the rightful owner of the hacked account. For one thing, they will send you a security code or a login link.

If you have photos of yourself on your profile, they will also ask you to take a video selfie. This step is so that they can make sure that it’s you who is reporting the hacking.

And don’t worry—your selfie isn’t run through facial recognition and scary AI technologies. Instagram assures users that these video selfies go through human review and are used for security purposes only.

Woman taking a video selfie.

A Clean Slate: How To Delete a Hacked Instagram Account

The trauma of a hacked Instagram account can take a toll on anyone. Sometimes, people want to start fresh with a new profile afterward. They may feel their current profile is tainted, unsafe, and prone to hacks. It makes total sense to want to delete this old account.

But deleting a hacked account is tricky, especially if you can no longer access it. For security reasons, Instagram doesn’t delete accounts unless you can access them. A deletion request through the account is a must for it to work.

You can only delete an account in one of two scenarios. The first is if you can access your account because the hacker never changed your password during the attack. The second is if you could regain access to your hacked Instagram account through the app’s help.

If either of these two sounds like you, getting rid of your vulnerable account is simple. Here’s how to delete a hacked Instagram account:

1. On your Instagram profile, click on the burger menu on the top-right and select “Settings.”

2. select “Personal details” in the Accounts center and then “Account ownership and control.”

3. Choose whether to deactivate your account for the time being or delete it permanently.

4. Select which account you want to delete and confirm your decision.

Although your profile disappears from the app immediately, your data is kept in Instagram’s backup storage. After 30 days of the deletion request, all your profile’s data and information will be deleted forever.

When your account is deleted, you can create a new Instagram account and have a clean slate. Use a secure email address and a strong password for your login details.

Instagram’s sign-up page for when you wish to make a new account.

Act Right Away To Save Your Hacked Instagram Account!

Stay vigilant and always watch for the signs of a hacked Instagram account. If you have the creeping suspicion that your account has been hacked, immediately follow the basic security steps above.

Finding the right course of action upon discovering a hacked account isn’t just safekeeping your online identity. It also protects your community of followers from potentially having the same thing happen to them.

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