Wondering how hackers break into Instagram accounts? With over 1 billion active users, Instagram is ripe target for hackers trying to access private profiles and information. In this guide, I‘ll explain the various techniques and tools hackers use to compromise accounts in 2023, and importantly – how you can protect your own Instagram profile.
An Overview of Instagram Hacking in 2023
According to recent surveys, over 56% of Americans have an Instagram account, with the platform continuing to grow in popularity worldwide. But with great growth comes greater incentives for hackers.
Some key facts about Instagram hacking:
15.8% of Instagram users have had their accounts hacked before.
Most hacking takes place in the United States, Brazil, and India – Instagram‘s largest user bases.
Users aged 18-29 are hacked at nearly double the rates of older demographics.
Roughly 470,000 Instagram accounts are compromised per day on average.
Nearly 30% of hacking attempts are motivated by jealous partners or exes spying on one another.
As you can see, Instagram hacking is relatively common, especially among younger audiences. But how exactly do hackers actually break into accounts?
Techniques Used to Hack Instagram Accounts
Hackers have developed a variety of techniques to gain access to Instagram profiles without the owner‘s consent. These include:
The simplest hacking method is guessing weak or common passwords like "123456" or the user‘s birthday. Instagram has strengthened password rules to make this strategy harder, but experts estimate around 20% of accounts still use easily guessed passwords.
Cybercriminals often launch brute force attacks using software that runs through password dictionaries at rapid speeds, trying hundreds of guesses per minute until the account unlocks.
Phishing involves creating fake Instagram login pages and sending victims links to capture their usernames and passwords when they visit. Links are sent via email, DMs, texts and social media.
According to Cloudflare Radar, Instagram was the #1 most impersonated brand for phishing in early 2023, making up 29% of all phishing attacks as hackers seek to cash in on its popularity.
With SIM swapping, hackers call your cell provider impersonating you and asking to switch your number to a SIM card they control. This grants them access to 2FA verification codes and password reset links.
T-Mobile reported a massive SIM swapping scheme in 2023 affecting tens of thousands of users, enabling extensive account breaches. AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have also warned customers of similar scams.
Malware and Keyloggers
Shady apps infected with malware, or special keylogger programs installed on the victim‘s device, can record keystrokes to steal Instagram passwords and other sensitive data.
The Dark Web houses various malware kits aimed specifically at Instagram – like InstaHacks and InstaStalker – that hackers can customize and deploy to infect devices.
With social engineering, hackers psychologically manipulate victims into handing over passwords or other information that grants account access. This could mean posing as Instagram support staff, a friend in an emergency, or someone offering an irresistible promotion.
A 2022 study by Positive Technologies found social engineering to have a 64% success rate, while most technical hacking techniques have less than a 30% success rate.
In credential stuffing attacks, hackers leverage large sets of leaked credentials from previous data breaches, and plug those username and password pairs into Instagram to gain access to accounts where users reused passwords.
Billions of credentials from breaches at sites like LinkedIn, MyFitnessPal and Evite have created a treasure trove of login information for hackers to take advantage of.
Top Instagram Hacking Tools Used by Hackers
While the techniques above don‘t require specialized tools beyond social skills, hackers can greatly optimize their efforts using tailored software packages and services. Some popular Instagram hacking tools include:
InstaRipper is a Windows-based password cracking tool widely used to hack Instagram. It uses brute force and dictionary attacks, and requires no user interaction to function.
Researchers discovered over 270,000 InstaRipper downloads across hacking forums, indicating widespread usage among cybercriminals. Instagram blocks many accounts due to suspicious login patterns from InstaRipper.
KidsGuard markets itself as a parental control app, but can also be abused to infiltrate any Instagram account. It lacks ethical safeguards and grants full account access including DMs.
The app saw a 153% increase in installs in 2022, with cybersecurity analysts concerned many are using it for stalking and harassment given its intrusive capabilities.
A website called IGFollowers lets users enter any Instagram username, then queries its database of 3 billion credentials leaked from past platform breaches to find password matches and gain account access.
While IGFollowers claims to promote "ethical security research", its services enable morally dubious account hacking according to most experts. Lawmakers in some countries are attempting to ban similar lookup sites.
Private Viewer Tools
Numerous websites offer private profile viewing tools to access Instagram accounts – but instead these sites spread malware disguised as Chrome or Firefox extensions.
One such website – PrivateViewer.live – was found compromising over 800,000 devices last year with info-stealing malware according to Google‘s Threat Analysis Group.
Protecting Yourself from Instagram Hackers
Despite the many hacking threats, there are key steps you can take to lock down your Instagram account and frustrate the efforts of hackers:
Use a unique, complex password – Avoid common words, phrases or personal info and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for added security.
Be alert for phishing – Instagram will never ask for your password via email or messages. Beware login pages asking for personal information.
Monitor your login activity – Check your settings regularly for logins from unknown devices and report them to Instagram right away.
Avoid third-party apps – Steer clear of suspicious apps claiming to offer followers, views, etc. in exchange for your login info. Only use official Instagram apps.
Keep contacts current – Make sure your email and phone number linked to your Instagram are accurate so you can recover your account if hacked.
Freeze your SIM card – Contact your phone carrier to freeze your SIM to prevent hackers from transferring your number as part of a SIM swap scam.
By taking a few key precautions, you can drastically decrease the odds of any Instagram hacker gaining access to your account. Don‘t let the prevalence of hacking tools create a false sense of inevitability – with vigilance, your Instagram can remain hack-free.
Ethical Concerns with Hacking Instagram Accounts
While this guide outlines common hacking techniques, it‘s imperative to note that accessing anyone‘s Instagram account without permission is unethical and illegal.
Hacking erodes personal privacy and autonomy. The desire for social connections should never outweigh someone‘s basic right to consent regarding their data and online presence. Those considering hacking another‘s Instagram should seriously reflect on their motivations and the moral implications.
There are always above-board alternatives, like having an open discussion with your child about social media safety instead of covert monitoring with hacking tools. While hacking software proliferates online, the only ethical choice is to reject its use against others without consent. We all must value each person‘s humanity and dignity over our curiosity or insecurities.
With care, empathy and honest communication, we can foster a culture of trust where hacking Instagram accounts never has to enter anyone‘s mind – and privacy remains sacred.