It was a cool morning in November, 2016, Aishanee woke and checked her Instagram account as she normally did. She had been using her account, nicknamed the Ink Alcove, to post her poetry for almost a year and had over 500 followers.
Later that day she received an automated message from Instagram telling her that she had successfully changed her password. Alarmed, she quickly clicked on the Instagram app to find that she could no longer access her account and that all of the poetry she had created and the connections she had made, had been stolen.
Like thousands of others, Aishanee lost her Instagram account to hackers. The knowledge that her account had been hacked left her feeling “bad and sad.” A sentiment that has been experienced by many who have been victims of hacking.
Unfortunately, hacking is not a new problem on Instagram. There are many ways that your account can be hacked: from not logging out of a shared computer to losing your personal information via a phishing or smishing scam. There have also been numerous reports of security breaches via Third Party apps. An issue that was so prevalent that Instagram changed their API, meaning that they removed access to accounts by certain types of Third Parties, to reduce the likelihood of a security breach.
Aishanee had never used Third Party apps, and still isn’t sure how her account was compromised. Like so many others in her position, Ainshee contacted Instagram, but she never received a reply.
Given the prevalence of hacking, Instagram are working hard to reconnect people with their accounts, but it doesn’t always happen. We believe that preventing hacking is your best protection from losing your work.
Instagram gives the following advice for protecting your account:
Pick a strong password. Use a combination of at least six numbers, letters and punctuation marks (like ! and &). It should be different from other passwords you use elsewhere on the internet.
Change your password regularly, especially if you see a message from Instagram asking you to do so. During automated security checks, Instagram sometimes recovers login information that was stolen from other sites. If Instagram detects that your password may have been stolen, changing your password on Instagram and other sites helps to keep your account secure and prevent you from being hacked in the future.
Never give your password to someone you don’t know and trust.
Make sure your email account is secure. Anyone who can read your email can probably also access your Instagram account. Change the passwords for all of your email accounts and make sure that no two are the same.
Log out of Instagram when you use a computer or phone you share with other people. Don’t check the “Remember Me” box when logging in from a public computer, as this will keep you logged in even after you close the browser window.
Think before you authorize any third-party app and revoke any that you do not use or trust.
We also recommend taking the following steps:
Turn on Two Factor Authentication from your settings and ensure that you keep your reset codes in a secure place. To do this, click on the three dots in the top right corner to access your options. Scroll down and select Two Factor Authentication.
Create an Email Address that you only use for social media and don’t use it for anything else. EVER. This is an email account that you only use to create and access your social profiles.
Regularly check what you have liked and look for comments and follows that you did not do. This indicates that someone else is accessing your account.
Think very carefully about buying or boosting followers. Not only is it likely that you are buying bot accounts, but these types of apps have been linked to numerous risks including account hacking. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Aishanee has now set up a new account @soul.strings and is slowly rebuilding her network. She has been fortunate to be supported by other community members who followed her earlier account and they have been working hard to reconnect her to her followers. She has also learnt a valuable lesson about keeping her account safe, and she now changes her password every month. Something we recommend for all community members.
If you have any other tips that might help the community or other Instagram users, please leave a comment below.
A big thank you to Aishanee @soul.strings for sharing her experience. Feel free to head over and like her new account!
Rayna Halloway ǀ @herheartshapedbox
Based in New Zealand, Rayna is an ever-optimist obsessed with all things poetry. She has aspirations of taking the spoken word world by storm, if only she could get over her stage fright!