Have you been noticing some strange things happening on your favorite celebrity’s Instagram account? A recent data breach allowed hackers to get their hands on the contact details of hundreds of notable figures and potentially millions of regular users’ account information—including yours.
Just a few days ago, hackers exploited a bug found in the Instagram app’s code to scrape email addresses and other contact details of celebrities. Although the social media company at first reported that the breach only affected verified users and that only a “low percent” of their base had information stolen, it became clear later on that the hack was more substantial.
The hackers behind the attack later claimed to have the information of 6 million users on file, and are attempting to sell off the information on a website they set up called Doxagram. Instagram thus far reports that it has no way of knowing if these numbers are accurate or how many of their 700 million active users should be concerned about the information breach.
So what’s the best thing you can do to ensure the safety of your contact details and account in the future? Instagram offered a few tips on the best actions to take:
- Change your password regularly, and choose strong ones to protect your account with: When choosing a password, make sure that it’s one that you aren’t using for any other account, and that it contains numbers, capped and lowercase letters, and symbols. If you’re worried you won’t remember a complicated password, use resources like LastPass or other password security tools to store the information safely.
- Turn on two-step verification for your account: This is one of the best security features out there, and the smartest way to protect your personal information from hackers. Two-step verification adds an extra security credential to the login process of accounts that support the feature. Instead of just entering your username and password, you’re also asked for a constantly rotating numerical code that is generated through a third-party app on your phone or desktop. This makes it much more difficult for someone to gain access to your account if they do not also have your phone or access to your computer.
- Make sure your email address on file is secure: If your email is compromised or the password is easy to guess, it’s like a free pass for hackers who want access to any of your other accounts. And not just Instagram—it could mean access to your bank accounts, tax forms, and other confidential information. Make sure that you use a unique and secure password for your email account, and turn on two-step verification there as well if your email provider allows it.
- Log out of your account whenever you access it from non-secure devices: Crimes of opportunity happen all too often, so don’t let carelessness be the cause of a hijacked account. If you log into your Instagram account from a friend’s phone, a public computer, or other source, make sure the password information is not stored on the device and that you log out when you’re done.
These tips may not help those whose information was already stolen during the data breach, but it’s a good reminder to keep your information secure from would-be hackers.
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