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Social media safety: Instagram

12 March 2020

Stay safe on Instagram

Social media is meant for connecting with friends, family and those with similar interests - which is a very positive thing - however, like most things there can be risks as seen by the amount of successful scams conducted through social media sites. 

Our 2019 report Wolves of the Internet: Where do fraudsters hunt for data online? reveals where people’s personal data is being compromised online. Personal data is frequently sold on the surface web from being gathered off sites we use everyday, such as Instagram... can we do more to protect ourselves?

Sharing too much

Facebook is leading the way with over 2.3 billion users in 2019, Youtube with 2.2 billion and Instagram now with over 1 billion users. In the last decade we saw sharing all aspects of our life become increasing popular, and for most, the norm. Fraudsters have an endless amount of data available to them, so it’s important we remain aware of what we post and stay cautious to not share too many personal details.

Sharing information such as your location, occupation and email address can give hackers the information required for identity theft. Sharing too much also leaves you vulnerable to physical theft as some burglars use social media to keep tabs if their potential victims are on holiday.

Who has access?

There are two types of social media users. Those who have private accounts and post purely for friends and family, and those who post consistently seeking engagement such as brands and influencers.

No matter which type of user you are, security is important. This includes considering who is and isn’t able to see and comment on your posts.

If trolling becomes an issue with problematic comments on posts Instagram offers the functionality to turn off comments or report specific users. Instagram also allows users to filter comments based on custom chosen keywords or default keywords Instagram has identified.

It is also important to note that if a profile is public the location settings are visible. So when searching for a particular location any Instagram user can automatically watch all public stories in that area.

Cautious of connections

How many of us have online connections with a friend-of-a-friend on social media? Just because you have mutual connections does not mean that you need to accept a friend request. You never know who is searching for personal details about you and how they might use it. It’s okay to be cautious around accepting follow requests, and even unfollowing or blocking someone if you feel suspicious or uneasy about their content and intentions.

Two-factor authentication

Instagram allows you to enable multi-factor authentication. This is an authentication method in which a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism: knowledge, possession, and inherence. 

Instagram asks for something you know (your account username and password) and something you have (your mobile phone) every time you log into your Instagram account from an unknown device. Meaning, if someone has your password but does not have your phone, they cannot access your account.

Strong passwords

And the most obvious, but arguably most important, use strong secure passwords.

Using a password manager tool to help keep store of passwords and help create new ones for every different site you use can help protect you from hackers. Instagram conducts automated security checks and will prompt you to change your password if it appears compromised. 

Never post or share your password with anyone you don’t trust, including any third-party app. Not clicking the ‘Remember Me’ box is also a good way to ensure your password is not shared on purpose, or on accident.

Posted by: Amber Burridge

Amber is the Head of Fraud Intelligence at Cifas.


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Posted by: Amber Burridge

Amber is the Head of Fraud Intelligence at Cifas.