Instagram is, without a doubt, one the largest social platforms in the world. And with the influence some users have, comes the risk of being hacked. Vv Magazine’s Sarah Brown takes you inside the world of an Instagram hacker.
Call them what you want: cyber punks, black hat villains or pirates, Instagram is crawling with hackers. Inside the billion-dollar platform, hackers are paid to steal followers, scam, and assert control over unsuspecting Instagram users. But it’s not what you might think. Beyond our Hollywood blockbuster understanding of malicious hacking software, there’s a new style of hacking that doesn’t involve a green screen of death – on the contrary, it’s psychology 101. They call it “social engineering” and it relies on human interaction to withdraw private information from targets.
The scary part? Hackers are everywhere: disguised as friends, family, and big-brand companies. It’s a game of power, control, and manipulation that can fool even a hack-savvy target if they’re not paying attention. That’s why I reached out to Codeinstein, a teacher of hack who was more than willing to share his tips and tricks inside the world of social engineering. After all, the way Codeinstein sees it, “the only way to defend or protect an account hacking is to know how to hack an account in the first place.”
Why do you hack?
We’re living in a world of manipulation. I started hacking Instagram accounts after learning about “human hacking”: influencing targets to perform a task or withdraw desirable information. Making contact, gaining trust, and acquiring information are all I need to hack into an account – from there, it’s pretty easy to get them to give me the access I’m looking for. As a security researcher and student of psychology, I’ve always been interested in harnessing the power of computers against humans. I’m good at it.
What do you look for when hacking accounts? Celebrities, followers…?
If the hacker wants money, they’ll hunt for accounts with more followers. I’m not interested in celebrity accounts because they can verify their identity quicker than the average person on Instagram during the Instagram recovery process. People usually hack celebrity account for fun, not money.
So, it’s pretty easy to hack an Instagram account?
The technical security is more or less the same on every social channel. It depends on the users who use the platforms and the security they put in place to protect themselves.
How do hackers make money on Instagram?
In the hacking community, I meet thousands of people. All of them are making money in different ways. Some of them make money by scamming. If you go their pages, they run ads that say “hacking accounts for 50$”. The user pays the money, and nothing happens. The funny thing is that you can’t go to Federals about this. “Hey I paid a hacker to hack an account and he scammed me.” Paying a hacker is a crime in most situations. It’s possible to hack an account and sell it to someone else to gain more followers. The prices are always changing.
Has someone ever paid you to hack another person’s account?
Yes. After I launched a YouTube account about hacking, I got thousands of messages from users who offered me money to hack accounts. I’ve been paid $10, $100, even $1,000 to hack. Some ask me to do it for free, usually the Hollywood brainwashed viewers. Many customers want me to hack their partner’s account to find out if they’re cheating on them. A lot of people think it’s easy. Like all I have to do is type something into a computer. But no, it’s not that easy. It takes time, maneuvering and manipulation.
How hard is it for a user to recover their Instagram account after it has been hacked?
It can take weeks for a user to recover an account that’s been hacked. Once the hacker has access, they’ll immediately change the email, username and everything on the account to take full control. After this, the user must contact Instagram to begin the recovery process and provide proof that shows the account belongs to the account owner. For example: when a user uploads a photo to Instagram, it also copies that picture to their phone Gallery. Keep these picture safe because in the recovery process, Instagram will want it from you to help them identify that the account is yours. You’ll also need to prove that you still own the email address you used when registering the account. Instagram will often ask for screenshots of your account too. The more proof a user has of their account, the faster the account will be recovered.
What’s the first thing that happens after an account is hacked?
After an account is hacked, there are two options to consider: Ninja mode or Owning mode. In the Ninja mode, a hacker doesn’t change the password or steal the account. They’ll use it to invade privacy without the target knowing it; the user continues to her/his daily life without knowing they’re being monitored online.
While the user is offline, a hacker can pretend to be like the user and talk to someone to acquire more information. This isn’t risky because you can “unsend messages” on Instagram, which means a hacker can talk to the user’s friends to gather information, then unsend all the messages and delete the conversation once information is acquired. When a hacker unsends messages, the messages are erased from both users who are talking to each other. This is the perfect Instagram feature for a hacker.
The owning mode is where a hacker completely “owns” the account: changing details and erasing information to make it harder for the main user to recover their account again. Then the account belongs to the hacker. If the account has lots of followers, hackers will sell them. Alternatively, a hacker will hack a friend’s account using the account that was just hacked. It’s easy to impersonate a person if you’ve hacked their account, so hackers will talk to the target’s friends to steal more accounts and gain more followers.
What’s the most popular method to hack an IG account?
Phishing is the most popular way for hacking accounts because it’s the easiest. It’s a method where the hacker re-creates a page that looks exactly like the Instagram login page. The hard part is finding a way to make users log in on the new page to access their credentials. Like for example, offering a verification checkmark on an account. Hackers need to offer something that a user really wants, something that will make them want to sign in on a different web page that looks authentic.
Another way is Bruteforce. It’s a technique where a hacker will make dictionary attacks on a target account. Think of it like this: there is a .txt file which is filled with thousands of password combinations. A script you can use will help you try them all on the account automatically, so basically this is what a Bruteforce attack is, this method is commonly used for wireless hacking, password cracking etc. Instabrute.py, which is a popular Bruteforce script written in Python programming language, can be used for making a Bruteforce attack.
How does IG hacking make you feel? Are you addicted to power / control?
When I first started hacking accounts, I was proud of myself. It was like having a superpower that nobody else had. I felt guilty after a while, so I stopped hacking accounts and turned into a White Hat.
Years have passed and now I’m using Youtube to promote Instagram hacking awareness. I use a mask in my videos for anonymity. There’s no information about me or who I am, just videos. I’m a normal person – I could be sitting beside you on the streetcar, or behind you at the grocery store, I’m like anybody else. But I’m a hacker, and I know how to manipulate people to retrieve valuable information. It’s a talent. Most importantly, I want everyone to know that hacking is illegal, regardless if it’s for good or bad. Hacking is not a solution to enforce penalties or power; that’s what the law is for.
Have you ever been a target of an Instagram hacker? What was the experience like? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.