Instagram Accounts Are Being Abducted and No One Knows Why Exactly

Around 2000 Instagram users have reported that they have been locked out of their accounts, seemingly the result of a widespread hacking campaign originating from Russia.

Victims say that they have been logged out of their accounts, have had their profile pictures and handles changed, as well as the email addresses and phone numbers associated with their accounts. Those who have requested a password reset have discovered that their accounts are now linked to .ru emails.

This pattern has been reported since the beginning of the month according to Mashable. The digital media website notes that reports of this kind of hack on Twitter have spiked dramatically. “According to data from analytics platform Talkwalker,” their article reads, “there have been more than 5,000 tweets from 899 accounts mentioning Instagram hacks just in the last seven days.” Many of those tweets were directed at Instagram’s official Twitter account seeking help.

Though Instagram claimed that this was commonplace, Mashable notes that the number of such tweets – tweets directed at Instagram with the word “hack” in them – has reached close to 700 since the beginning of the month, compared to about 40 for the previous month.

The pattern can also be observed on Reddit and in a Google Trends search for “Instagram hacked”.

In a blog post, Instagram urged users to update their security settings and enable two-factor authentication. Problem is that some of the accounts that were hacked already had 2FA enabled. The good news, however, is that Instagram says that it is planning on upgrading its 2FA, which currently relies on text messages instead of an authenticator app.

The bizarre twist to the story is that the hijackers don’t appear to be doing much with the stolen accounts, which seem to have remained static since the hack. What the hackers did do was merely changing all of the contact information linked to the accounts, making it impossible for the original owners to recover their accounts using the automated processes that Instagram has in place for such occurrences.