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How Do Instagram Accounts Get Hacked? [Recovery & Prevent]

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Has your Instagram account been hacked? Or you may simply be worrying about your Instagram account being compromised by online predators. You won’t be the first Instagram user to think this way.

According to NordVPN, 70% of Americans are concerned about their social media accounts getting hacked. Unfortunately, 13% of the same population has already faced this misfortune on Instagram.

Making things even worse, 70% of the hacked Instagram users didn’t manage to recover their accounts. Instead, they got permanently locked out of their profile.

So, today, let’s explore how Instagram accounts get hacked, how you can find out, and how to stop or prevent Instagram hacking.  

Why Do Hackers Steal Instagram Accounts?

Only the hackers know! Yes, I am kidding. Most reasons behind this illegal activity don’t quite hold up against the personal misery and violation it causes for the unfortunate Instagram user.

Cybercriminals steal Instagram accounts primarily for business purposes unless it’s someone you know.

They often hack an Instagram account to steal personal information and sales revenue, impersonate you to scam your loyal followers, make illegal and unethical requests, and demand ransoms. They can also sell your hacked IG account on the black market.

If you are an Instagram influencer, your Instagram id may be more valuable to hackers. They can use your credibility to demand a more significant ransom or scam your followers.

The same applies to Instagram shop owners, who attract cybercriminals for potentially stealing their revenue.

According to a 2022 study by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), more than half (51%) of Instagram account theft victims lost their sales revenue to hackers, with 40% losing only their personal information.

Some victims also suffer from the fake impersonation of their Instagram behavior.

Even if your hacked account is permanently blocked, they can create fake accounts using content previously shared from your account.

These types of identity thefts are frequent among vengeful hackers with a personal agenda.

How Do Instagram Accounts Get Hacked?

vector graphic showing an illustration of how Instagram accounts get hacked

Instagram is a hyper-popular social media platform with advanced security measures. Yet, hackers use all kinds of hack tricks to dupe Instagram users and breach their account’s security.

Different forms of social engineering can be used to manipulate a vulnerable user, along with some malicious software attacks.

1. Using Social Engineering Tactics

Cybercriminals often use different social engineering tactics to dupe an Instagram user into clicking a link, known as phishing attacks. It is prevalent among thieves.

The trick involves sending out malicious links in your direct message or email. For example, if you interact with an Instagram direct message and click on the link, your Instagram account may get compromised.

The same applies to email phishing, where the sender may pose as the official Instagram support alerting you about possible suspicious activities.

In addition, these emails often encourage the user to click on an Instagram login link, which is a trap to steal your Instagram credentials. If the email looks suspicious to you just check the SPF record of the email domain. Legitimate companies always have the email security protocols activated.

2. Infecting Your Device With Viruses

Malware attacks are one of the most traditional hacking techniques, which is also used by Instagram hackers. It involves infecting your device with malicious keylogging software. The software keeps records of anything your type, enabling cybercriminals to access your information.

Typing your Instagram login details in a compromised device or network will allow the hacker to capture it before using the information to breach your account. These attacks are prone to happen over public Wi-Fi networks.

Downloading malicious attachments and Installing unknown add-ons are other common ways of getting affected.

3. Through Third-Party Apps Linking

Instagram is a social media that makes it easy to link third-party apps and tools for various purposes.

For example, you can link your Instagram account with Facebook, simultaneously post on multiple social media, connect a social media manager for posting automatically on Instagram, use an external authentication app, etc.

Some less-familiar apps also offer the chance to explore who visited your profile, who stalks you on Instagram, or artificially increase your post engagement. These are traps to induce you into entering your Instagram password.

If you do, hackers may take over your Instagram account if you share your password on the wrong platform or app.  

4. Data Breaches on Other Sites

People often use the same password on multiple sites. Some users also use a slight variation of the same in different platforms and apps.

If one account gets breached, other profiles on various sites can also get affected for having the same weak password or a common variation. These attacks are prevalent among social media hackers.

Once they get hold of some personal information, hackers invariably try to gain access to the user’s social media accounts.

For example, they may try with the same password or a few different combinations to get hold of your Instagram account, especially if two-factor authentication isn’t enabled.

5. Careless Use of Passwords

Hackers don’t always need sophisticated techniques to illegally breach an Instagram account. Instead, they can do it by stealing your device or accessing your Instagram app.

For instance, if you lose a smartphone while logged in to Instagram, whoever gains access to your device can take over your account.

It can also happen when you share your device with a friend or neighbor to help them access their Instagram account. As the Instagram app can store your login details, the other person can quickly access your account and do some damage.

This can be massively risky if you share your device with strangers, use a public device, or fall out with a roommate or acquaintance.

How To Tell if My Instagram Account Got Hacked?

Instagram usually sends an email notification if social media can intercept an unusual attempt to log in.

However, before confirming your account status or changing your password, you should check if the email is from the official Instagram support team.

However, getting such a notification may not be possible if the hacker has a correct password or tries to log in to your account from the exact geographic location.

In such cases, you can do the following to see if your Instagram account got compromised:

  • Check if You Can Log In: If you can’t log in to your Instagram account using the correct username and password, your account may have been hacked. Double-check to ensure you have a working internet connection, and try again to be sure. Still in no luck? Then your account may have been taken over by someone else.
  • Look for Email Updates: Hackers often change the account recovery information to revoke your access to the compromised Instagram account. If so, you should receive an email from Instagram confirming your changes. If you did not request the change, a hacker is more likely to have done it.
  • Examine Your Login History: You can access your Instagram login history by heading to Account Settings > Security > Login. You will find information about your past logins, including their geographic origins. See any unusual attempt or a foreign location? Then your account may have been hacked.
  • Review Your Recent Activities: You can review all your Instagram interactions by clicking the three-lines (hamburger) icon and selecting “Your activity” from the pop-up options. Check if you can find new Instagram posts, likes, or comments not made by you. Do the same by checking your direct messages. If it’s not you performing these actions, somebody unauthorized must be using your account.

In general, if you can’t log in to your account or spot something unusual happening, it might be a sign that your account got hacked.

Things To Do if Your Instagram Account Is Hacked

Social media accounts have become incredibly susceptible to hacking. Considering that, Instagram continuously works on making the platform more secure.

In addition, the network has also improved its recovery process for a hacked account.

So while you might be tempted to inform your social media friends and followers about your misfortune immediately, focus on protecting yourself first.

Instagram does have some options to report the incident and possibly recover your account. Check out the following YouTube video to learn your account recovery options in detail:

Change Your Instagram Password

Whether you can log in to your Instagram ID or not, you should try and change your password as soon as you suspect hacking. You can request a password change from the app.

Unfortunately, if the hacker has changed your account recovery information, this may not work from the designated login screen on the app or web.

If you can’t change your password in the usual way, head to the Instagram help center and check if you can manage your account from there. This page also helps set up two-factor authentication and recover your Instagram account if your device has been stolen.

Report and Request Instagram Support

If you can’t recover your account yourself, seek help from Instagram after reporting the incident.

The social media network has a specific help section for hacked accounts, which will guide you through the steps of detailing what happened. However, you can only request this support for your own account.

After reviewing your requests, Instagram should contact you with the next steps for recovering your account. You may get away with a video call verification if you have a profile picture. Otherwise, the process of verifying your identity can get tedious and lengthy.

Report Any Abuse and Spam Links

Instagram also has a dedicated help section to report abuse and spam. It has tips and suggestions for reporting different abusive incidents. You can also visit here to protect your account after inadvertently clicking a malicious link.

This will alert the Instagram support team about the link and walk you through the steps to safeguarding and recovering your compromised data. It is also beneficial for Instagram to prevent the spread of similar associations in the future.

Seeking additional support? You can contact the ITRC on their website or call them toll-free to report any identity crime online, including on Instagram.

How To Protect My Instagram Account From Hacking?

As the saying goes – prevention is better than cure. It also applies to your social media accounts, including Instagram. Setting up protective measures against potential hacking is much better than recovering a hacked Instagram account.

Like the WordPress security best practices, you can do the following to protect your Instagram account against hacking:

  1. Always use a unique and strong password composed of letters, numbers, and symbols. You can also use passphrases or a third-party password generator like LastPass.
  2. Update your Instagram password periodically with a new one. Using the same password for longer makes it more likely to get compromised. You should also use different passwords for different social media or e-commerce accounts.
  3. Enable two-factor authentication for your Instagram account. Having to perform additional steps each time you log in might be discouraging, but two-factor authentications are immensely practical for account protection.
  4. Be cautious before clicking on a link shared via your Instagram DM or email, and vet them properly. You should apply the same philosophy for linking or approving third-party apps to your Instagram account.
  5. Avoid handing over your device to just about anyone. Hiding your keys while typing your password can protect your sensitive info from prying eyes.

It is also best to avoid connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, especially in an airport or a popular travel destination. These places are frequented by identity thieves looking to dupe you into compromising your social media and banking details.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Instagram Accounts Get Hacked per Year?

Instagram accounts theft has been on the rise since 2016, with a massive increase from 46,000 to 95,000 in 2021.

A Notch study found that at least one Instagram creator’s account gets hacked every 10 minutes, totaling over 50,000 creator accounts a year.

Can My Instagram Account Get Hacked via Follow Requests?

While your Instagram account can’t get hacked directly for accepting a follow request, it can create the base for hacking by giving hackers access to your personal information and content.

It will also allow the suspicious user to send you Insta DMs with phishing links, risking your account further.

Wrapping Up

As the popularity of different social media platforms rises, so do the risks of unauthorized social media account takeover. It’s a source of around 3 billion in revenues for cybercriminals, making it incredibly difficult to stop.

You can protect your Instagram account against hacking by learning its tactics and taking preventive measures. Recovering your account is also an option if you do suffer from this misfortune.

Please let me know if you spot something I missed. It would also be excellent if you shared my post with others on Instagram and beyond.

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