Have you noticed some Instagram accounts having different bios? How about profile pictures that have been changed to Disney characters? Many Instagram users are being locked out of their accounts due to a widespread hacking crusade, leaving them with altered profiles.
Affected Instagram users first noticed that something was wrong when trying to login to their accounts with their credentials. After many failed attempts, users request to recover their accounts which are dealt through the associated email. But victims of this attack are faced with a message stating that an email was sent to an address ending with a .ru domain.
Hacked account users mentioned that their account names, profile pictures, passwords, and email addresses associated with their Instagram accounts were modified. It seems that the hackers behind this attack are Disney fans as they are changing profile pictures to Pirates of the Caribbean and Despicable Me. And since Facebook is connected with Instagram, some of those accounts have also been impacted.
As the culprits are still unidentified, the attacks are still continuing and many Instagram users are reporting getting locked out of their accounts. The use of .ru email addresses may indicate the source is from Russia — or threat actors pretending to be from the country.
“We work hard to provide the Instagram community with a safe and secure experience,” an Instagram spokesperson said. “When we become aware of an account that has been compromised, we shut off access to the account and the people who’ve been affected are put through a remediation process so they can reset their password and take other necessary steps to secure their accounts.”
A few possible scenarios of how these Instagram accounts were compromised could be due to two-factor authentication (2FA) being disabled, lax password security, or a successful phishing campaign.
When social media accounts become the targets of cyberattackers, after being compromised, messages will often be sent to contacts containing malicious links and scripts to propagate, and fraudulent content or spam will often be posted on timelines. However, it does not appear to be the case when it comes to the Instagram incident as there have not been reports of user content being deleted or any new images being published.
According to Paul Bischoff, a privacy advocate, has a suspicion that this widespread attack could be due to a botnet, intended for a spam slave army.
“Even if some victims regain control of their accounts, many of those affected have likely quit the platform or just won’t go through the trouble, adding soldiers to the spambot army,” Paul Bischoff added.
As Instagram is working diligently to recover these hacked accounts, they advise the IG community to keep a secure password with at least six numbers/characters, enable 2FA, and beware of suspicious third-party apps that may have access to their accounts.
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