There was a time when all you had to do on Instagram was scroll your feed, discover new pages on Explore, and find great filters to use for pictures. These days, you can still do all that, but you also have to triple-check your security, especially if you want to keep your Instagram account.
According to Norton, one of every six social media accounts will be compromised. These hacks can have damaging effects that cost you and your business thousands, or even millions of dollars. Consider that back in 2016, NFL player Laremy Tunsil’s Instagram account was hacked, costing an estimated $21 million in damages.
Besides monetary damage, losing your Instagram to hackers can have other effects. Your profile could be used to scam others, plant phishing software, create fake engagements on paid PPC campaigns. or even steal your identity. The good news is that you can easily detect if your Instagram account has been hacked and take steps to recover it. Better yet, you can protect it from hackers altogether.
Top 4 Instagram account hacked signs to look out for
Changes to your registered details
When hackers get a hold of Instagram accounts, they first try to change the account details. This way, you can’t regain control of your account. You can confirm this by diving into your email to see if you’ve received any messages from Instagram support.
The message will probably contain a warning that your credentials have been changed, with a link to revert changes. If you find a message like this in your inbox, you may have been hacked.
Attempted sign-in from an unrecognized device
Instagram keeps a record of browser and internet device activity on your account. If a phone is signed into your Instagram account, you can find it on the settings page. If you find a device you don’t recognize, that’s a clear sign of a hacked Instagram account.
Sometimes, the device looks familiar – your iPhone model – but it’s signed in from a foreign location. That’s also a clear sign that something fishy is happening.
When hackers target Instagram accounts, they trigger unusual activity. This could mean DMs from accounts you don’t recognize or notifications of suspicious connections. Finally, your account could be suspended for spamming other users.
The last instance happens when the hackers try to use the hacked accounts page to bait Instagram connections. Scroll through your direct messages and see if there are messages you don’t recognize. If these exist, your account has been hacked.
Unusual activity linked to your account could also mean finding photos you didn’t post on your page. However, Instagram hackers often avoid doing this because any of your followers could reach out to you on other platforms and warn you about the hack.
You’re locked out of your account
This is usually the final sign of a hacked Instagram account, and if you missed the previous ones, this will definitely get your attention. Losing access to your account even though you’re using the correct username and password means that hackers have gained control and changed your credentials.
If you mistype your password, you’ll also encounter this problem, so double-check your entries.
What should you do if your Instagram profile gets hacked?
Losing your Instagram account is scary, partly because it feels like you’ve lost a part of your online identity, but also because recovering the account can be difficult.
To increase the chances of gaining back your Instagram profile, it’s critical to swing into action as quickly as possible, using the following steps.
1. Use the warning mail from Instagram
When your Instagram account gets accessed by a suspicious party, you’ll get a password reset email from Instagram. This mail will contain a “revert this change” link that can be used to reverse changes made by the hackers.
But before we get into this option, there are two things to remember. First, the hackers might have deleted Instagram’s message if your email has also been compromised. In this case, you want to check your trash.
Secondly, double-check the source of the warning mail and ensure it’s actually from Instagram and not a hacker trying to send you to a phishing site. One way to confirm is to see if the mail is from email@example.com.
If you have access to your Instagram account, you can also confirm using the following steps:
- Log in to your Instagram app
- Tap the profile icon and head to settings
- Click on security and scroll to “log in security”
- Click the emails from Instagram option
If the mail you received doesn’t appear in this section, it was most likely from a hacker, and you should delete it.
2. Try to change your password immediately
If you suspect your Instagram account has been hacked, but you haven’t lost access, it could mean that the hackers haven’t changed your credentials. It could also mean that they have other intentions for your account.
Either way, your best move is to change your password ASAP. Choose a new, unique, and secure password (check the next section for tips on how to create strong passwords.)
You should also consider securing your email account for good measure; if they hack your email, they can get into all your socials. If you want to improve your online privacy, using an anonymous, disposal address from 10 Minute Email can help you achieve that.
3. Follow Instagram’s guide for recovering your account
You can visit Instagram’s hacked account guide for more tips on how to recover your account. When you follow the steps, you’ll have to use the forgot password option and receive a login link at your provided email or phone number, with steps on what to do next.
If you’re still unable to recover your account – either because your credentials were changed or you don’t have access to the phone number – you can request support from Instagram.
This will involve verifying your identity with video selfies to ensure you’re real.
How to avoid being hacked on Instagram
1. Use a strong, unique password
Most people use the same password across multiple accounts, and a data breach on any of these websites could mean that your Instagram password is vulnerable. Consider that in January 2021, a major data leak at SocialArks exposed 214 million social media accounts (Cybersecurity Magazine).
You can do nothing about data leaks, but you can use strong, unique passwords to make it harder for hackers to get into your account.
According to Google, here are the best tips for creating a strong password,
- Include at least 12 characters
- Ensure your password contains letters, numbers, and special characters
- Use passwords that can’t be guessed by people who know you
- Use random words and phrases like a passage from a book or a line from a poem
While creating a strong password is important, it’s also essential to protect your information and keep your Instagram account secure. That means you shouldn’t share sensitive info or store directly personal information on your Instagram account.
2. Activate Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security that hackers usually can’t get past without physical access to you. With Instagram, you can choose to receive a security code via text message or a third-party link every time you want to log in.
To many users, two-factor authentication is a two-edged sword. On one hand, it will lengthen your sign-in process because it means you’ll need additional login details. However, it will also make it harder for hackers to get into your account. Most people would call that a fair tradeoff.
3. Double check your recovery settings
Instagram has gone to significant lengths to help you maintain access to your account. One of these measures is tied to your recovery email. Every user has to provide a recovery email while opening their IG account. This email will receive a message whenever you need to recover your hacked account or reset your password.
It’s a good idea to check and see if you still have access to your recovery email. If not, consider updating it. That way, you can easily log back in if you get hacked.
Getting hacked on Instagram is a stressful experience, and the best way to get out of it is to stay out in the first place. Hopefully, you won’t need the tips on recovering your account because you created a strong password and secured your account from the get-go.
Trying to get away from social media? Check out our guide to breaking free from Instagram!