From common cybercrime, such as phishing, to the blue-checked Instagram profile that indicates a verified account, Amer Owaida, of the international cybersecurity company ESET, helps us understand more common tactics used by scammers to trick their victims into this popular social platform.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms. Indeed, with over 1 billion active users, it is one of the four most popular social networks in the world. This number, which at the same time represents potential targets, is sure to attract cybercriminals like honey bees.
In this article, Amer Owaida, from the international cybersecurity company ESET, examines the top 3 most common scams you may encounter as you scroll through Instagram and connect with other users via messages.
1. Suspicious sellers
In addition to allowing users to follow friends, celebrities, and influencers on their content, Instagram also allows companies to advertise their products, and even serves as a product salesperson. Over time, you may see more and more ads for products from supposedly new and emerging companies that sell fashion products or others that close and offer big discounts.
However, not all offers are real, and some of them may turn out to be scams. And this is where your innate curiosity and vigilance come in handy. If you have never heard of the product or company, it does not necessarily mean that it is a scam. However, such an advertisement should make you think and therefore you should do some research, because if you order something, you may, for example, never receive it, or you may receive a lower quality product or something that if nothing else you had not even ordered.
What can you do: Do an internet search. Look for reviews of suppliers and products they offer and see if there is anything suspicious. And while it is extremely unlikely that you will find anything suspicious on the company's website, surely if some people have been scammed by this company they will have written some reviews in a forum or rating pages. You also need to be mindful of fake reviews. These will probably be full of spelling mistakes, they will try to refute any negative reviews and they will probably describe the company and its products with rave reviews.
2. The attack of the clones
When browsing Instagram, looking for the profile of a famous or a football team that you would like to follow, you will most likely come across many fake profiles that look amazingly like the real ones, which are "clones" of the original account.
However, these "clone" attacks are not limited to popular actors, singers or athletes. Cybercriminals can just as easily clone the profile of ordinary Instagram users. They will then continue to impersonate the people in the cloned profiles and try to communicate with their friends and followers.
The trick is quite simple. The attackers will claim that the legitimate profile they have cloned has been violated, that this is the new profile and that "hackers" have emptied the holder's bank accounts or they will even claim that the profile holder is in financial need for some other reason. A few skillful manipulations (social engineering) on the one hand and with a little luck, the victims are deceived and lose their money because they believe they are helping a dear friend or relative.
And if you think that such a scam technique is not so plausible or that people may not be fooled so easily, you are unfortunately wrong. ESET security expert Jake Moore conducted a successful experiment: by cloning his own profile he was able to prove that this scam is very likely.
What can you do: If you suspect that the profile of your acquaintances is a "clone", the fastest way to check it is to communicate with your friends through an alternative method, such as the phone. On the other hand, to keep your profile safe, you need to lock it in and keep it private and not public, while at the same time being selective about who you allow to follow and who you do not.
3. Verification badge scam
Speaking of cloned profiles, another thing to look out for is profile verification scams, or "verified account scams", if we want to be precise.
What can you do : Look for the blue icon next to a profile, whether it is a celebrity, influencer, or company. "In fact, the blue verification icon next to the profile is a way for people to know that the accounts they are following or looking for are exactly who they say they are," wrote the Instagram description of the verification marks.
But these are currently the 3 most common ways cybercriminals choose to attack Instagram users.
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In the next article, we will look at 3 more common scams you may encounter while scrolling through Instagram and connecting with other users via instant messaging. Until then, stay careful and move safely on social media!