What Should I Do If My Instagram Account Was Hacked?
Update: Sep. 14th 2016
If you’ve never heard of Instagram, you’ve been living somewhere other than Earth the past few years.
As of June 2016, More than 500 million people are using Instagram to visually capture and share moments like this:
With so many people using Instagram to share such personal data, it’s no wonder hackers are interested in gaining control of Instagram user accounts.
You may have noticed random photos that appeared on your account, or a lot of new, unknown people, that you’re following all of a sudden. Maybe you are unable to log in to your account.
If you suspect your Instagram account has been hacked, here’s what you should do:
1. If your Instagram was hacked, there’s a good chance your email was too.
Start by using this free tool to find exposed passwords, credit card, bank and social security numbers in your email account.
The tool will keep you safe by removing any and all private data putting you at risk for credit card and identity theft. So if hackers hack your inbox, they won’t find what they’re looking for, and you’ll be protected.
it also allows you to notify friends who sent or received the risky email, and ask them to delete the thread. Once you’ve managed your email, you can now deal with your Instagram hack.
2. Report the incident to Instagram
If you can’t get into your Instagram account but you still have access to the email account associated with it, reset your Instagram password.
a. Click on “Forgot” at the home page.
b. Then enter your email address to reset the password.
b. If you don’t have access to your email account, report the incident to Instagram as soon as possible through this link.
c. Fill out the form.
Indicate on the form that you no longer have access to your email account and provide an alternate email account that you do have access to.
If you do have access to the email account associated with your Instagram, that’s great news.
See the following suggestions for steps you should take to regain control over your account.
3. Change your password
Change your Instagram password using the Edit Profile option in Instagram.
To get there, log in and click your username at the top right corner of the page.
Then, click “Edit Profile.” On the page that appears, look for the Change Password option on the left-side menu.
Make sure you choose a strong password that meets these guidelines:
- Is at least 6 characters long (but the longer the better!)
- Contains lowercase letters, uppercase letters, and a digit. For more security, add a special character like an exclamation mark or question mark
- Is not a dictionary word
- Is not based on personal information like your date of birth, spouse’s name, etc.
4. Change your password on other accounts if you’ve used the same one
If you are reusing your Instagram password on other sites such as Gmail or iCloud, change your password on those services too. You don’t want your Facebook account hacked as well as your other accounts.
Attackers often use password reuse (an ill-advised but common practice) to gain access to their victims’ other accounts!
5. Secure the email account associated with your Instagram account
Hackers often gain access to social media accounts after first hacking into victims’ email accounts.
Because of this, you should make sure you’re using all protective measures available to you to keep your email account safe.
Here’s what you should do:
- Make sure you’re using a strong password with your email account (see suggested guidelines for creating a strong password above)
- Use LogDog — it’s a free app that monitors your account for any suspicious activities, and alerts you if it detects anything iffy so you can quickly thwart any hacking attempts.
The service can be used across all devices and OS’s, so you’re always being protected. Here’s the Android and iOS links for you to check out
6. Revoke access to suspicious third-party apps
Check out which third-party apps have access to your Instagram account, and revoke access from any app that looks suspicious.
To do this, go to your Account page and click on “Manage Applications” from the left-side menu.
To revoke access from any app, simply click the “Revoke Access” button to the right of the app listing.
Want to go the extra mile?
Revoke all apps from accessing your account and re-enable access later, after you believe the hacking incident has been resolved.
This way, if an attacker is accessing your Instagram account via one of these other apps, he’ll immediately get shut out when you revoke access of these apps to Instagram.
Note: Giving access to apps again in the future may again grant the hacker access to your Instagram account.
Therefore, it’s recommended to grant access to apps slowly (one at a time), to help you identify the specific app the hacker is using.
7. Review your recent activity
Go over your Instagram feed and make sure there haven’t been any pictures or comments posted that you’re unaware of.
Any activity you don’t recognize as your own — especially posts containing links to other websites — should be considered extremely suspicious.
If you see anything suspicious, remove it right away, especially since it may endanger your followers.
Here’s what you do:
a. To remove a post, tap on the post and click “Delete”
b. Let your followers know that your account has been hacked and that they should be vigilant of any suspicious activities
Hackers often use one compromised social media account as a stepping stone to hijack friends’ accounts.
8. Log out of Instagram when you use a computer or phone you share with other people
This is a general security tip:
You should always log out of Instagram (and any other personal account) when you use a device shared with other people (like a computer at an internet café or library, or a phone that you’re borrowing).
If you don’t log out, you’re basically giving any third-party the keys to your account — not a good idea!
For more tips, check out Instagram’s official guide here.