To many people, Instagram is a fun place where they can interact with friends, learn new things, follow celebrities and even earn money. But behind the surface of this seemingly innocent social media platform is a group of malware entities that could be hiding within the posts and the messages that you are seeing.
About the Instagram Virus
The term ‘Instagram virus’ is generally used to refer to malware entities that are spread on Instagram through phishing campaigns. The viruses are incorporated as part of posts and messages, which once clicked, lead users to phony websites that sometimes trick their victims to sharing passwords and other sensitive information.
Examples of Instagram Viruses
As noted, there are many versions of the Instagram virus. Here is a list of the most common:
1. Ugly List
The Ugly List Instagram virus uses a hacked account to send posts to friends of the victim, informing them that they have been included in some Instagram list of ugly people.
Users who click on the dubious posts are redirected to what appears as a login page that requires a user’s Instagram credentials to see the ‘Ugly List’. Those that fall for this trick get their accounts hacked and are also used to spread the malware.
The goal of the people behind the Ugly List malware is not just to hack as many Instagram accounts as possible. They are more interested in landing a high-profile Instagram account of some famous celebrities, who they can then blackmail for money.
2. Nasty List
The Nasty List Instagram virus works the same way as the Ugly List Instagram virus. The only main difference is that the Nasty List virus uses direct message to target their victims.
Instagram account holders receive a message notifying them that they have been included in some list that has ranked their Instagram profile based on attractiveness. A clickable link, which leads to a phony Instagram login page, is included as part of the message. Users who click the link and who subsequently share their login information unwittingly have their Instagram accounts recruited to spread the malware further.
Just as is the case with the Instagram virus, the end goal of the Nasty List Instagram virus is to land a high-profile account of some celebrities, corporation, or business entity, and steal information from them and use it for financial or identity fraud.
3. Who Viewed Your Instagram Profile
The Who Viewed your Instagram Profile virus is a nasty virus that is promoted as a third-party app(s) that supposedly allows you to see who viewed your Instagram profile.
Some people fall victim to this ruse, but if only they read Instagram’s terms and conditions, they would know that Instagram does not make such information available for obvious privacy reasons. The goal of the app is to make you share your login details so that they can hack your account.
4. Hot List Virus
The Hot List virus is identical to the Nasty List and Ugly List Instagram viruses, except that this one tricks its victims into believing that they have made it to the list of ‘hot’ Instagram accounts. Its end goal is similar to that of the other viruses. It simply wants your Instagram login credentials.
5. Ray-Ban Sunglasses
A while back, the Ray-Ban sunglasses brand was used to launch a massive spam campaign that tricked users into clicking baited ads that purported to offer discounts of up to 70% on many of the Ray-Ban products. Clicking the ads only redirected the users to websites that required them to share login information.
How to Tell If I Have the Instagram Virus
There are two obvious signs of infection by the Instagram virus; the first is when you start seeing posts and messages that are suspicious. If these posts are directly posted on your feed, supposedly by you or someone else, then you have definitely been infected by the virus.
The second tell-tale sign of an infection by the Instagram virus is when your user credentials, such as password and email address, are changed without your knowledge.
How to Remove the Instagram Virus
The first thing that you should do when you suspect a suspicious activity on your Instagram account is to change your password immediately. This will effectively prevent your account from being used for spamming. To change your Instagram account password, go to your Profile > Menu > Settings > Security > Password.
In case you can’t get access to your Instagram account, go to the Instagram’s Hacked Accounts Help page. Also, revoke any permissions that you might have given to third-party apps. No app should be able to post on your behalf.
Finally, you need to scan your computer with a premium utility tool such as Outbyte Antivirus as the Instagram virus may have instigated secondary infections. So, even if you are able to remove the virus from your Instagram account, other malware entities may be lingering on your computer.
An anti-malware solution works best with a PC repair tool as the latter will clear any cookies and junk files that may be playing host to viruses. The repair tool also has the added ability to improve the performance of your machine by optimizing RAM and repairing broken registry entries.
How to Avoid the Instagram Virus
Here are ways to avoid the Instagram virus:
- Verify the authenticity of any link before clicking on it.
- Avoid third-party apps that request ‘Permission to post on your behalf.’
- Don’t share your account credentials with any app or website, it will serve you no good.
- If your friend’s account starts posting suspicious posts and messages, notify them and recommend that they change their password ASAP.
- Avoid profiles that have no posts and that request that you visit a particular site.
That will be all about the Instagram virus. If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please free to use the comment section below.
A Computer Engineer by degree and a writer by profession, Cathy Trimidal writes for Software Tested and Outbyte. For years now, she has contributed articles focusing on the trends in IT, VPN, web apps, SEO, and digital marketing. Although she spends most of her days living in a virtual realm, she still finds time to satisfy her infinite list of interests.