Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms. Indeed, with more than a billion active users, it is one of the four most popular social networks in the world. The number of its users, however, makes it more attractive to internet hackers everywhere.
Amer Owaida, from international cybersecurity firm “ESET”, analyzes the three most common scams that a simple user of the platform may encounter:
1. Suspicious sellers
In addition to allowing users to follow friends, celebrities, and influencers, Instagram also allows companies to advertise and sell their products. Over time, you may see more and more ads for products from supposedly new and emerging companies, or others that shut down and offer big discounts.
However, not all offers are real, and some of them can turn out to be scams; if you’ve never heard of the product or the company, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a scam either. However, such an advertisement should give you thought, and therefore you should do some research on it; because if you order something, you may, for example, never receive it, or you may receive a product of a lower quality, or something that —if anything— you had not even ordered!
What you can do:
- Search for the brand on the Internet.
- Look for reviews of the suppliers and products they offer and see if there’s anything suspicious. It’s certainly hard to find anything that will arouse your suspicions on the company’s website (unless there is a lack of evidence in “About Us”); if some have been the victim, more and more criticisms will have been written in some “forum”, or on evaluation pages.
- Also, you should keep an eye out for fake reviews; these will likely be full of spelling mistakes, try to refute any negative reviews, and likely describe the company and its products with rave reviews.
2. The Clone Attack
In case you are looking for the profile of a famous or a football team that you would like to follow, chances are that you will fall on many fake profiles, which look amazingly like the original accounts; “clones” that is of the original account.
However, these attacks of “clones” are not limited only to popular actors, singers or athletes. Cybercriminals can copy just as easily the profile of ordinary Instagram users!
The trick is simple: the hacker —who plays the person whose account he stole— will attempt to contact friends and relatives in order to extort money from them.
And if you think that such a technique of fraud is not so believable, you are, unfortunately, wrong. “ESET” security expert Jake Moore carried out a successful experiment: clone his own profile managed to prove that this scam is very likely.
What you can do:
- If you suspect that the profile of your acquaintances is a “clone”, send a message to your acquaintance through another platform.
- On the other hand, in order to “secure” your own profile, it is advisable to have it private and not public,
- while also being selective about the people you allow to follow you.
3. The verification badge scam
The hacker sends massive “emails” to Instagram users where he lists a link for the user to “activate” the verification badge. The user by clicking this link actually allows the hacker to access all the details of his account! In other cases, the hacker offers the verification badge for a sum of money!
What you can do:
- Check your “email” address very well. Instagram doesn’t use “gmail” or any equivalent company providing “email” addresses, so you “google” the address from which you received the “email.”
- Alternatively, in the Instagram app you go to “Settings”, then to “security” and then to “emails from Instagram”, where you will be able to verify if the “email” you received is indeed from the official platform.
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