By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Instagram seems like a harmless source of pleasure, but it can turn dangerous if you don’t keep your account secure. If you don’t protect your personal information, you could find yourself the subject of a hack or other nefarious activity. Follow these tips to protect yourself while getting the most out of Instagram.
Make Your Account Private
You might want your friends, family members, and even colleagues to see the photos you post on Instagram, but you don’t want to expose your images and videos to people you’ve never met. Fortunately, Instagram allows you to set your privacy controls, so only approved users can view your profile data.
Access your Instagram from whatever device you prefer to use. Tap the icon for your profile, then go into your settings. From there, you can set your account as private. Taking this step will prevent your posts from appearing in Instagram’s “Search and Explore” function.
Choose an Effective Password
Authorities vary on some of the details surrounding secure passwords, but if you follow a few basic rules, you’ll keep your Instagram account secure. Start with an alphanumeric series that you’ll remember. Try mixing up words and letters and avoid actual words. Use your license plate or a shortened URL as a source of inspiration.
Add one or more symbols to make the password even more unique. A forward slash, question mark, or bracket, for instance, can make it more difficult for people and algorithms to guess your password. If possible, change the password every 30 to 90 days.
Choose a Secure Email Provider
The best email providers require two-factor (or two-step) authentication. In other words, you don’t just have to enter your username and password. The service also asks you for a PIN or other source of identification.
Unfortunately, Instagram hacks can easily start with your email address. If the hacker can get into your email account, he or she can change the settings on your social media profiles and gain access to the photos and other posts you’ve shared with your network.
If your email provider is secure, however, you close off an avenue of access. You can even use a single dedicated email account for all of your social media profiles so you can keep track of the activity more closely.
Pay Attention to the News
New loopholes and vulnerabilities surface all the time in social media circles. When news outlets and the general public learn about a problem with a social platform, they tend to spread the word, so pay attention to news pieces about Instagram. You might learn about a loophole that you need to close to protect your data.
Watch for Fishy Behavior
Scam artists are extremely adept at building trust and manipulating their targets. If one of your Instagram friends gets in touch with you and uses unusual language or otherwise shoots up a red flag, contact that person offline. Unfortunately, scammers don’t have to infiltrate your account to get information about you. Instead, they impersonate people you know. Phishing attempts can leave you vulnerable, especially if you think you’re chatting with a pal online. Next thing you know, you’re the victim of identity theft or some other scheme.
Use the Block Button
It might feel rude (or, if you’re trying to build a following, counterintuitive), but you’ll probably need to use the block button on occasion. If someone expresses an undue amount of interest in you or if you receive threatening messages from another Instagram user, block that person’s account.
Simply tap or click on the user’s profile and select “Block User.” You’ll no longer see his or her timeline and photos, and vice versa. Even if that person references your name or account (an @ mention), you won’t see it.
Modify Your Profile
You can choose the information you share with Instagram in your profile. For instance, your profile asks where you are located. If you don’t want to provide your hometown, simply don’t fill in the field. That way, the platform’s algorithms can’t target you with advertising based on your geographic location.
Similarly, you might want to avoid connecting with other apps via your Instagram account. If you keep all of your accounts separate, you can control the information each platform receives. Furthermore, if you ever decide to delete your Instagram account, you won’t lose your connection to other apps you like.
Instagram offers the chance to connect with people all over the world, primarily through imagery. While it’s a useful platform, you must protect your account to ensure you remain safe while you use it. For more security and privacy ideas, follow @HotspotShield on Instagram.