On track to reach 2.5 billion users this year, Instagram is one of the world’s largest social media platforms. However, its popularity made it easier for cybercriminals to get closer to their targets and earn their trust. And once they do that, they can pull off all sorts of schemes!
Some of their tricks are obvious, such as pretending to be someone they’re not, extracting information, or just trolling. But there are other, more devious strategies.
We’ll cover all the potential dangers below and explain how you can get a virus from Instagram.
Can I get a virus from Instagram?
Yes, you can get a virus from Instagram. Simply opening the app on your device isn’t enough to infect it, though. You’ll have to click on a shared link or media from another user.
Usually, these links lead to phony websites that host malware. Some may even try to steal your password and other sensitive information.
So, just like when opening Facebook messages, you’ll have to be extra careful if a stranger contacts you. This is especially the case when the DM contains a clickable link.
What are the potential threats?
Hackers usually spread viruses on Instagram through organized phishing campaigns. They rely on fake profiles and competitions that require real users to share their malicious links.
Luckily, these scams often follow similar patterns. They’re easy to recognize if you’re careful enough.
Let’s take a better look at the most common ones:
Check who viewed your profile
These scams have been around since the early days of Facebook. People are curious by nature and are interested in seeing who’s looking at their profile.
Of course, hackers are aware of this.
They’ve come up with all sorts of apps and extensions that claim to reveal who’s been snooping on you. They’re almost always malware.
There isn’t a legit way to check who’s been viewing your profile. If you see a third-party app or hack claiming to do so, you can always assume it’s a virus.
Another popular Instagram scam is the ugly list. Basically, it informs users in a post that they’ve made it on a list of ugly people (ta-da!).
When the unsuspecting victim clicks on the link in the post, they’ll be asked to log in again to open it. This is just a trick to get users to share their passwords.
Once you enter your login credentials, the person or organization behind the scheme will have access to your account. This way, they’ll use your profile to spread the virus even more.
The end goal is to hack Instagram profiles belonging to celebrities and other influential people. Hackers can then blackmail them by threatening to share private information and pictures.
As the name suggests, this scam is pretty similar to the previous one. However, instead of informing other users they’ve made it on the ugly list, it states they’re on Instagram’s nasty list.
And there’s one more difference:
This scam heavily involves DMs. Hackers use the accounts they’ve already compromised to share clickable links to their malicious sites. They spam contact lists with messages in the hopes of tricking more people.
There are also other variations like the hot list that use the same strategy. Addmitedly, it’s much more flattering — but don’t fall for it.
How to stay safe?
Whether you’re using your computer or phone for Instagram, it’s important to do everything you can to protect your device.
Following some general social media safety tips is enough to keep most viruses at bay. Here are some of our security recommendations:
- Never click on links from unknown profiles.
- Never share your personal information with strangers.
- Don’t accept DMs from strangers.
- Report suspicious profiles that try to DM you.
- Be careful if an unknown user tags you in a post.
- Contact your friends if you get a suspicious message from their account.
- Install a reliable antivirus (when accessing Instagram from PC).
If you’ve already clicked on a link you suspect is malicious, change your password as soon as possible. You can do this in the Security section under Settings.
So, were you wondering — can I get a virus from Instagram?
Well, now you know it’s possible to infect your device through the platform. Cybercriminals will use your curiosity against you with various scams and phishing schemes. As long as you ignore any links from unknown users, you should be fine.