If you’ve noticed an influx of social networking spam lately, you’re not alone.

Instagram, for instance, has apparently been hit hard by a spate of scammers breaking into accounts and modifying profiles to appear sexually suggestive, luring people in with the promise of promiscuity of online dating, pornography, and adult situations.

This means there are more fake users out there spamming your life, providing thoroughly fake follows whilst attempting to get you to click on a link in a persistent proliferation of the pilfered profile.

If that’s too much alliteration for a work day, read it as such: scammers are breaking into Instagram accounts with suggestive situations, and using those stolen accounts to break into more.

What do the accounts look like? Why this... without the pixelation and blur. Image credit: Symantec
What do the accounts look like? Why this… without the pixelation and blur. Image credit: Symantec

Symantec, makers of the Norton 360 security solution, has picked up on this of late, and following the same sort of thing happening on Twitter, has profiled what’s going on.

Nick Savvides, one of Symantec’s Security Experts, told Pickr that because social media is a great hunting ground for scammers, the trust people have for content shared by their friends allows criminal action such as these hacks to proliferate, with Savvides saying that the scam “works by promoting adult dating services to the victim’s followers”.

“If a victim clicks though to the dating site and signs up for it, the attacker gets an affiliate sales payment,” said Savvides, who added that  “the attack is probably based on leaked passwords from other services, where the victim has used the same password and associated email address”.

So how do you not get caught in a scam that continually runs?

The answer is not to click on the scams in the first place, making sure that the scammer isn’t getting paid for breaking into your Instagram account.

As for what you can do if your account has been broken into, that is a more problematic scenario.

“The first thing to do is contact the service provider and attempt to regain access to, and control over, your account,” said Savvides, with Instagram being what you should contact in this instance, though if other social services are compromised, the respective services in that instance (such as Twitter or Facebook).

“Secondly, you should change your passwords on other services, with unique, strong and complex passwords to ensure that the attacker does not also obtain access to these as well,” he said.

“As always, it is recommended to turn on two-factor or two-step authentication on all your online services to prevent this from happening again.”

A technology journalist working out of Sydney, Australia, Leigh has written for publications including The Australian Financial Review, GadgetGuy, Popular Science, APC, PC & Tech Authority, as well as for radio and TV since 2007.

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