Hacking is not a new phenomenon. It’s just affecting more people and getting embarrassing for industry giants. Take the Game of Thrones leaks for example. And those leaks were after telecom giants like Bell Canada was ransomed by hackers, and Verizon exposed phone numbers, names and pin codes for six million customers on an unsecured cloud server. However, while hacking has been common in the past and especially this year, last week marked the first time that a major hack hit Facebook-owned Instagram. Are passwords now a liability and is it time to turn on that Instagram two-factor authentication?
The Instagram hack
It started when Instagram’s most-followed account, belonging to pop star Selena Gomez, posted Justin Bieber nudes. The account was taken down, but not before reports of more hacked accounts hit the internet. According to RepKnight, the cyber security firm that looked into the data breach, numerous accounts, including the fifty most popular accounts on the social media platform, were affected by the hack. The company disclosed that accounts of celebrities, musicians, athletes and actors had their phone numbers and contact information stolen, including those of David and Victoria Beckham, Emma Watson, Emilia Clarke, Beyoncé, Neymar and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Instagram CTO and co-founder Mike Krieger did not confirm how many accounts were accessed in the cyber attack. However, he did state that “no passwords had been stolen” in the hack. That might sound like good news, but the mere fact that the hackers acquired celebrities’ personal contact information begs the question just how safe is your Instagram account?
Why you need the Instagram two-factor authentication
Instagram doesn’t know the number of accounts that have been hacked. That means that even now, anyone’s contact information could be going up on the darknet for $10, even yours. Doxagram, the site where celebs’ private information was first sold, have may been shut down but that doesn’t mean that the group responsible for the latest hack is done using the information they stole.
If I were you, I’d double back and turn on the Instagram two-factor authentication (2FA) immediately. It’ll increase the safety of your account and keep your personal information out of the darknet market.
How the Instagram 2FA works
The Instagram two-factor authentication is a security feature that lets you protect your personal details by taking you through a two-step verification process whenever you access your account from a new device.
Normally all you need to access your Instagram account is your username and password. This makes it easy for anyone to pose as you and request for your ‘forgotten password,’ which is how the hackers got the personal information in this recent cyber attack. Instagram’s 2FA adds a twist to the log-in process: a code to verify that it’s really you logging in to your own account. When you turn on the 2FA feature, you have to put in a backup code or SMS code sent to your mobile phone to access your account. Since no one but you have access to the codes, this makes it a bit hard for anyone else to hack your profile.
To activate the 2FA feature in the Instagram app, go to your profile settings on Instagram, select Two-Factor Authentication and tap the Require Security Code option to turn it on. By doing that, you’ll be making it harder for others to gain unauthorized access to your account. You’ll be doing yourself, and the Instagram team, a favor.