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Russian hackers stole hundreds of Instagram accounts this month

Updated Nov 22nd, 2019 4:35AM EST

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If you’ve discovered that you can no longer log into your Instagram account, and trying to reset your credential leads nowhere because the account is linked to a Russia-based email domain, you’re not alone.

It turns out that what appears to be a Russian attack left hundreds of Instagram users without access to their accounts, some of them in excess of a few thousands of followers. Even users who had two-factor authentication (2FA) turned on discovered that their accounts were breached.

The recovery, as expected, is a tedious process that might lead to nowhere for the time being.

It’s Mashable with details on various instances of Instagram users who discovered they could no longer log into their accounts. Contact details including phone number and email addresses were changed (see below). Similarly, profile images were modified and even links to Facebook profiles.

Image source: Mashable

Instagram users have been complaining on Twitter and Reddit about the matter, and that’s how Mashable discovered that the attacks intensified this month, with more than 5,000 tweets from 899 people mentioning Instagram hacks in just the last seven days.

Instagram says it hasn’t seen an uptick in hacks, but it sure looks like the hacks intensified in August, based on Twitter activity and Google Trends records.

“We work hard to provide the Instagram community with a safe and secure experience,” Instagram said in a statement. “When we become aware of an account that has been compromised, we shut off access to the account, and the people who’ve been affected are put through a remediation process so they can reset their password and take other necessary steps to secure their accounts.”

Restoring access to an account that no longer has your phone number and email address can be burdensome, and the process is hindered by Instagram’s automated practices set in place for account recoveries.

“The maze that Instagram sends you on to get your account back is laughable and leads to broken/dead links and emails from robots which lead nowhere,” Abagail Nowak, an affected Instagram user, told the site.

What’s more worrisome is that 2FA authentication was also broken, which seems to indicate that hackers can steal whatever account they desire.

It’s unclear how the hackers were able to log into those accounts in the first place. But, as always, make sure all your online accounts are protected by unique, hard to guess or hack, passwords.

It’s also unclear why Russian hackers are stealing these accounts, but Russia has been proven to have abused social media to influence US elections. Maybe that’s what they’re doing again, especially if they’re targeting users who have a decent amount of followers.

Then again, it’s also possible that someone is trying to make it look like Russia is behind the hacks. It’s also possible that a 400-pound person is doing all of this from their own bedroom. Why? Good question.

Hopefully, Facebook will soon shed some light on these Instagram hacks, especially if the attackers are picking up the pace.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.