The Essential Guide to Secure Your Instagram Account [Updated]
Follow these steps to increase your account’s security and keep cyber criminals and scammers away
Instagram is a fun way to explore your creative side while taking photos and sharing them with your friends.
In the same time, it’s a great platform to share your materials with unknown people who choose to follow you. Or you can be discovered via hashtags, if you use them and make your photos accessible to people from all around the world.
We take our social media knowledge for granted and, because of this, we usually have no fears on our security or privacy. We have a misguided sense of protection on the social networks, that we are in a safe place, only surrounded by friends, and nothing bad can happen to us.
However, if you don’t want to expose yourself, we’ll list below all the options you have to secure your Instagram account.
Before we get there, you should ask yourself a few simple questions:
Are you a public person? Do you want to work on your online branding?
If not, since your friends already know who you are, how relevant is it for you to use your real name?
And do you really need to expose your location, your work place or where you live?
For this reason, before you post a new photo on Instagram or let your children use this social media network, you should be aware of what security and privacy options are available and how you can use them in order to increase your online protection.
1. How to make instagram private
If you don’t want your photos to be public and available to be seen by everyone, you can make your profile private.
To only share your photos with the users you choose, like your friends and family, follow these steps:
1. Go to your Instagram profile window.
2. Click on the three dots in the right corner.
3. At the bottom you’ll find the Private Account option. Make sure this security setting is ON. (The button should turn to Blue)
Activating this option means that only those who follow you can see your online photos.
2. Block followers you don’t know
You have created an Instagram account and you want followers. So, you start following even unknown people that you discover. In return, some of them follow you back. However, after a while, you may start to receive inappropriate comments on your photos from those users. Or, on the contrary, they may not interact with your posts in any ways and you feel that they are only lurking.
Even if you have turned on the option to make your photos private, it won’t keep your posts private from those who are already following you.
In this case, you will have to manually remove (Block) the people you don’t want to see your photos.
To remove one of your followers from your list, follow these steps:
1. Go to your Followers list and check out the people who follow you.
2. Tap on the user that you want to block.
3. From the top-right corner, tap on the menu button.
4. In the new window, choose the Block User option.
3. Keep your Profile Information Private
Don’t expose too much private data in your profile information and especially in your EDIT PROFILE area.
Don’t write any personal information that could be used against you in the Bio field.
4. Don’t expose your location
Another important step you can take to keep yourself secure from identity theft and hide your account’s credentials from online criminals, is to make sure your location services for Instagram is turned off.
This is also extremely important for the check-ins made at home, at work or while on a vacation. There have been plenty of cases of thiefs that were tipped off because of check-ins made on social media. People left for a short holiday, bragged about it online, and came home to find the place emptied.
So, the first step to avoid becoming a victim is, of course, to avoid checking-in certain photos.
If it’s too late to do that, you should check and remove the location you added to your past photos.
To do this, follow these simple steps:
1. Go to your Instagram profile account.
2. Tap on the dropped pin icon.
3. At the top right of the screen you’ll see three dots, tap on them and then click on “Edit”.
4. You’ll see a photo map of your photos that have geotags. From there on, you just have to select the photos that you want to remove from your geo-map. Tap on them, and then tap on the check mark at the top right of the screen.
5. It will ask you to Confirm that you want to remove the geotags and permanently remove their location data from Instagram – click Confirm and that will be it.
5. Manually approve Photo Tags
Let’s just imagine a situation where someone posts an embarrassing photo with you on Instagram, a photo your friends or family members should not see.
For an individual who cares about reputation and social status, this could be quite a difficult moment.
So, what can we do to keep ourselves protected from this type of surprises?
The answer in this case is to activate the Instagram option that allows you to manually add photos you’ve been tagged in to your profile.
To do this, follow these steps:
1. Go to your Instagram profile account.
2. Access the Photos of You area.
3. Tap the menu button in the top-right corner.
4. Choose the option to add photos manually to your profile.
6. Activate Two-Factor Authentication
This is an option recently introduced by Facebook, they activated in February 2016, but it’s most welcome.
Two-Factor Authentication works as an extra shield of protection for your account. In case a cyber criminal somehow finds out your password, they won’t be able to take over your account, as they will need this second factor to authenticate themselves.
The second factor consists of a unique, time-sensitive code, that you’ll receive via text on your mobile phone. You’ll have to introduce it any time you’ll want to log-in to your Instagram account from a new device.
Of course, it’s also essential that you set a strong, unique password to your account, so don’t ignore that aspect either.
Here’s how to turn on the Two-Factor Authentication:
1. In the mobile app, go on your Instagram profile.
2. Click on the Settings icon (top right of the screen).
3. In the menu you’ll see a shortlink for “Two-Factor Authentication”, click on it.
4. Turn it on and set it up using your mobile phone.
That’s it. From now on, any time you’ll want to log in to your Instagram account from a new mobile phone, you’ll have to introduce the password and the extra unique code, that you’ll receive via text message.
As an alternative, in case you ever lose your mobile and don’t have access to your phone number, you can also use one of the Backup Codes. Each Instagram account has five unique codes. You’ll find them in the same place where you activate the Two-Factor Authentication.
7. Revoke access to third party apps
Most likely you logged in using your social account to third party apps. It can be other social networks, or services that analyse your number of followers, post on your behalf and so on.
For security and privacy matters, you should only allow access to the apps that are trustworthy (especially those created directly by the Instagram and Facebook teams). Remember that those apps have access to your profile and personal information, thus making you vulnerable.
So take your time and do a spring cleaning. Check every single app that you allowed to access and use your Instagram account. Revoke access to the ones that you don’t use anymore, look suspicious or you can’t even remember them.
Here’s how to do that:
1. Log into your Instagram account from the browser (desktop / laptop).
2. On the top right of the screen, click on your profile photo. Select “Edit Profile”.
3. From the Menu, select “Manage Applications”. It will take you to a page from where you can manage the apps that you authorized to use your Instagram account. Revoke access to any apps that might make your account vulnerable.
General Guidelines to follow before posting on Instagram
- Don’t post sensitive information in your photos or captions
- Don’t reveal your location
- Make sure the location is not revealed by background details either
- Don’t use hashtags that may reveal private data (or the location)
- Don’t post provocative or violent photos
- Don’t post photos of other people without their consent
- Do not engage in online bullying
- Parents, please don’t post photos of your kids online
- If you log into your Instagram account from other devices (public / shared), make sure you log out every time
Remember that by collecting all the available information on us, from multiple online accounts, cyber criminals are capable of creating a public persona and eventually operate identity theft.
Do you know who really is watching you?
This post was originally published by Aurelian Neagu in December 2014. It was updated by Cristina Chipurici in May 2016.