How to Avoid Miami’s Most Recent Instagram Hack and Get Your Account Back

Photo+from+bobbentz.com

Bob Bentz

Photo from bobbentz.com

Gabriela Danger, Opinion Editor

Perhaps recently, in the past couple of weeks, you’ve seen or heard news about a random increase in Instagram hacks, especially among people you know here in Miami. Maybe you or someone you know has been hacked.

Or, if you’re like me, you tried helping an acquaintance who, unbeknownst to you, was also hacked, and wound up getting hacked yourself.

If this has happened to you or a loved one, you may be entitled to financial compensation… just kidding, no money, but I can help you get your Instagram account back, and help you spot the hackers before they get to you. Here’s what you should do for a bit until the hacking surge has calmed down.

1. AVOID STRANGE MESSAGES!
This is the step I failed. Unfortunately, this hacker isn’t like the ones they’d tell you about in school. It’s not a strange “Hey! You’ve won an Amazon gift card, click this link to claim!” kind of obvious ruse either. This hacker will literally message you under the name of someone you know so you think it’s that person and ask you for help. Personally, I’m quite gullible, but I’m sure some of your sharper folks reading this could have smelled something fishy a mile away. I’ve never actually experience a hacker who has a conversation with you as a normal person, so I totally fell for it. Depending on who the hacker chooses to masquerade as, you may or may not fall for it.

For me it was someone I’d been friends with for a bit, and someone I didn’t want to leave hanging. So, I helped them and shortly after found out it was a hack on my account.

The initial messages will start with something like, “Hey, I need help getting back into my Instagram account. Can you screenshot the link that’s going to your messages now and send it back to me?” Followed by a message to your iMessage app with a link. The fact that they were contacting me FROM their Instagram account that they claimed to be locked out of should have been tip off #1, but I don’t know technology well and thought it must be some kind of glitch.

If you oblige and send them the link, they will then ask for your two-factor authentication codes in the “security” section of your Instagram account settings. They will tell you it’s somehow for their account, which it very obviously wasn’t, but hindsight is 20/20.

Your Instagram will look like this shortly before you get logged out for good. (Gabriela Danger)

Next, you’ll get shut out of your account. With this information, the hacker would have switched your Instagram account information like your phone number, email address, and name to theirs. By doing this, they’ve rendered you defenseless in getting it back. Any kind of code you try to send to yourself when you’ve forgot your password goes to the hacker, and any email as well. Instagram support is no help either. They don’t have an active email or phone number you can call for help, which is terrible customer service but not the point of this article.

So what do you do? By now, the hacker is posting spam to your Instagram story and as a normal post to your account. People are no doubt texting you to inform you of the hack, asking if it’s you, and overall acting as if you don’t already know this happened. That brings us to step two.

An example from my unfortunate account of what a hacker may post to your feed (Gabriela Danger)

2. USE INSTAGRAM’S VIDEO SELFIE FEATURE TO GET YOUR ACCOUNT BACK FAST!
Unfortunately, for a lot of victims of this hack, it seems hopeless. Their accounts stay under the hacker’s control for days on end, and by that point they’ll start reaching out to their followers as you, claiming to need help with their accounts, hoping to catch another gullible soul like me and begin the vicious cycle again. However, there is one loophole the hacker didn’t seem to account for. And that’s Instagram’s facial recognition feature.

Usually we read facial recognition and groan a little. And I understand why, because having your face in storage by an enormous company like Meta is quite scary, especially because we don’t know what they’re using it for. But the tactic I’m about to tell you of is about to make social media’s face stealing work for you, and not the other way around.

By following an extremely complicated and convoluted, almost criminally hidden series of steps, you can take a video selfie of your face, send it to Instagram, and, using the photos of your face on your hacked account, confirm that it really is you and get the account back into your custody.

I’m going to link the video here so you can all watch it, because it’s incredibly useful and was the reason I was able to get my account back the same day it got hacked.

One thing I will say that the video didn’t is to use a different email than the one the hacker has, because if you don’t, you can get hacked again in seconds, and I know because it happened to me! Maybe it seems obvious to you guys but I legitimately did not realize that major mistake on my part. So if you don’t have a second email and got hacked, open one now!

Finally, once you’ve gotten your Instagram back, be sure that once you log in, you change your password and set up two factor authentication again. This hacker is relentless and will try to get back into your account if you don’t protect it.

So that’s all there is to keeping an eye out for this particular hack, and how to get your account back as well. As always, be suspicious and safe on the internet, because hacks can come in any form. I know I learned the hard way (and will never trust again), but maybe you don’t have to! Click this for the video if you didn’t catch it before.

Stay safe out there ILS!