Social media  accounts have become a prime target for a huge variety of online criminals. Hackers try to steal our personal identification so that they can pretend to be us and buy things in our name, while scammers use social engineering to trick us out of money or goods.
It may seem that a site like Instagram is relatively safe from such fears since it’s just a place for people to post pictures, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Hackers often target social media accounts because they are a doorway into a person’s entire electronic life. Instagram has been hacked in the past, most recently in 2017 when up to six million accounts were compromised. Hackers are often interested in obtaining your personal information such as your birthday or the answer to your security questions so that they can access another account.
But how can you tell whether your Instagram has been hacked in the first place?
Let’s take a look at how you can tell if your Instagram account has been hacked as well as some steps you can take to protect your account against hackers.
How to Tell if Someone Else is Using Your Instagram Account
- How to Tell if Someone Else is Using Your Instagram Account 
- Securing Your Instagram Account 
- How to Recover a Hacked Instagram Account 
In order to notice whether someone has hacked your Instagram account, you will have to pay attention to any activity on your account. This means paying attention to any odd posts or direct messages sent from your account.
Here are some straightforward signs you can look for to help determine whether someone else has gained access to your Instagram account.
Look for Unusual Activity on Instagram
The most obvious sign that someone else is using your Instagram account is if you see account activity that isn’t yours.
This can include uploads that you didn’t publish, followers you don’t recognize or didn’t approve, or people you are following that you don’t remember following. It can even consist of messages you didn’t send or ones you’ve received from people you don’t know.
While it is possible that you simply forgot about doing something on your Instagram account, if you spot a post that you know you did not create or a photo you know you didn’t take, then you have a definitive indication that someone has compromised your account.
Emails From Instagram About Changes You Did Not Make
If someone requests a change to their Instagram account, the site sends an email to the address of record to verify the change. If you see one or more of these emails when you haven’t made any changes to your account, then your account has been hacked.
If you do see an email like this, you need to move quickly to secure your account, meaning you should immediately change your password for Instagram as well as any other accounts that use the same password.
Do not follow the link in the email as it could be a phishing attempt. Instead, directly log into Instagram separately and secure your account by changing your password.
Can’t access your email right now? One of the rarer features of social media security is Instagram’s email feature. Right from the settings, you can see what information the company has sent you.
Simply click on the ‘Settings’ and then on “Emails From Instagram.” This will show you if you’ve missed any security emails from the company even when you can’t access your email.
View Past Instagram Account Activity
A little-known feature of Instagram is that you can review all of your past account activity. Under settings, select “Privacy & Security,” then tap “Account Data.” This will bring up a screen full of optional pieces of information you can look at. I suggest examining password changes and privacy changes as a starting point.
Check Your Logins
The login history function on Instagram is very basic — it only logs the date and time of each login, nothing about your IP address or other identifying information.
However, if you know you didn’t use Instagram on, say, June 1, 2019, and yet there are six logins for that date – well, now you know someone else is accessing your account. The login record can be accessed via the Account Activity page described above. Immediately change your Instagram password to lock out whoever has been accessing your account.
Securing Your Instagram Account
Unlike Snapchat, Instagram allows multiple logins from multiple devices at once.
Since you have to depend on spotting unusual activity, it’s important to make sure you take responsibility for securing your Instagram account.
Change Your Password and Log Someone Out of Your Instagram Account
If you suspect someone else is using your Instagram account, change the password right away. It is a simple step that takes less than a minute and will stop anyone from being able to use your account without figuring out your new password.
- Log into Instagram.
- Navigate to the Change Password option in your account settings.
- Enter your existing password.
- Enter and confirm your new password.
- Save the changes by clicking or tapping Change Password.
When you change your password, all currently active Instagram sessions will be logged out, meaning that someone using your Instagram account will be logged out immediately.
Use a unique, difficult password or use a password manager to suggest something for you. Make it as difficult as possible while keeping it memorable. Security experts suggest using a combination of at least 8 letters, numbers, and special characters (such as @, !, #, etc.).
It’s important to never use the same password for multiple accounts. When you use the same password for multiple accounts, hackers only have to breach one account to gain access to all of your accounts.
Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
You should use two-factor authentication on every social media network and every online account that offers it. Two-factor authentication helps to ensure that only you can log into your account. Turning it on means that no one else can easily get into your account as you will need a confirmation code in order to log in.
This secures your account by automatically notifying you if anyone attempts to break into your account. Here’s how to set it up.
- Log into Instagram and go to your profile.
- Go to Settings and tap Security.
- Scroll down and select Two Factor Authentication.
- Tap the toggle switch button next to ‘Text Message.’
- If you have not linked your phone number to your Instagram account, you will be asked to provide one. Once you have entered your phone number, tap Next.
That’s it, 2FA is now enabled and will ask for a code every time you log in.
Get Recovery Codes
As part of turning on two-factor authorization, you can get a set of recovery codes from Instagram which you can use to log in if you lose access to your phone for some reason. You can reset the recovery codes anytime you want.
Check Authorized Apps
Instagram allows third-party apps to utilize your account to offer features and benefits. If you recently added an app and then found your account had been compromised, you need to check what apps are allowed to access your account.
- Log into Instagram and navigate to Authorized Applications.
- Run through the list and disable any you don’t recognize or no longer need.
If someone else is using your Instagram account and you change your password and remove unauthorized apps, they should now be locked out. If they gained access using an app, they will no longer be able to see what you’re doing or log into your account.
Avoid Phishing Scams
Phishing is when someone sends out an email pretending to be from Instagram telling you that there is a problem with your account and that you should log in to fix it.
The email always conveniently includes a link, so you click on it and it takes you to a page that looks just like Instagram. However, the site is fake, and once you type in your login information, the hacker now has access to your account.
NEVER click on a suspicious login link that is sent to you via email or through any messaging platform. Instead, go to the website by typing in the URL by hand. Instagram’s URL is www.instagram.com.
How to Recover a Hacked Instagram Account
If your account has been hacked, Instagram does provide a workable system for recovering the account and regaining control.
Recovery at the Point of Change
You may have caught the hack as it began by getting the email notification from Instagram that your email account has been changed. This is usually a hacker’s first move in seizing your information. If you get this message in real-time and you know that you haven’t changed your password, then you can click on the “revert change” link in the email and undo the hacker’s attempt at redirecting your account’s email correspondence. Quickly change your password after taking this step.
If the hacker has already changed your password, you won’t be able to log into your account, and in that case, you will need to report the account to Instagram as stolen.
Using a Security Code
Above, we discussed having a security code on hand to regain control of your account in case of a hacking attempt. However, if you don’t already have security codes in place, you can still retrieve them after a hacking attempt, as long as you still control the email address or phone number associated with your account.
To request a security code, go to the login screen on your device and tap or click “My login info isn’t working.” Then, choose either the email address or the phone number associated with the account to have the codes sent to.
Tap or click “Send Security Code” and Instagram will immediately text or email a six-digit code to your phone or your e-mail address. On the login screen, enter the 6-digit security code and tap or click “Confirm,” then follow the remaining instructions.
If you’re unable to recover the account using a security code, you will need to report the account as stolen.
Reporting a Hacked Account
If your account has been hacked and you cannot regain control using the automated methods, then you need to escalate the situation and report it to Instagram’s Security Team.
On Android, go to the login screen and tap “Get help signing in.” Enter your username, e-mail address, or phone number, and then tap “Next.” Tap “My login info isn’t working” then follow the on-screen instructions. You will then get an e-mail from Instagram with the next steps for you to follow.
On iPhone, the instructions are similar but some of the links have different names. On the login screen, tap “Forgot password?” and then tap “My login info isn’t working” and follow the on-screen instructions.
Verify Your Identity
The e-mail you get from Instagram will come from the security team and will ask you to verify your identity. They will ask you to do one or both of the following:
- Send in a photograph of yourself holding a piece of paper on which you have handwritten the security code they provide
- The e-mail address and/or phone number you originally used to sign up for Instagram, along with the type of device you signed up on
Once the security team verifies your identity with these checks, they will send you specific instructions for recovering your account.
If I deactivate my account, will it log out of all devices?
If you permanently deactivate your account all of your account information is gone, so technically it would log you out of all devices. However, if someone has your username and password it is likely that they could reactivate your account (especially if it’s just a temporary deactivation).
To avoid this, change your personal data and password first. Then you can deactivate your account without worry. It should also be mentioned that you should change your email password as well. If someone has access to your email it will be easy to reactivate your Instagram account.
Will I ever know who accessed my account?
It isn’t likely. Unless it’s someone who is close to your (or once was) the only thing you’ll ever know is the location of login. This can be iffy as well with the use of VPNs. If the hacker is using a VPN  you may never know the real location of the unauthorized logins.
Why does my account keep getting hacked?
If you’ve paid for followers then you may be in hot water with both Instagram and open to hackers. Assuming your account keeps getting hacked, someone has access to your email or even phone number. It’s best to update each piece of personal information to something entirely different.
Once you’ve done this, go to your email and change the password, set up 2FA, etc. If the hacker is getting into your email they will have unlimited access to your Instagram no matter how many times you change the password.
Have you ever been hacked or had an account compromised? Ever noticed something wrong with your Instagram account? Tell us about your experience below!