Police have been receiving more than 20 reports every week of hacks to Instagram accounts and have warned users of the social media network to take extra precautions to ensure their accounts are not compromised.
A spokesperson for the Malta Police Force said that the spike in reports had started last week and continued into this one, with around 20 reports per week filed.
The sudden surge in hacking reports has prompted the police's cybercrime unit to issue a public warning and advise users to brush up on their cybersecurity.
Several Instagram account holders who were hacked took to Facebook to warn their followers that their accounts were compromised. Both Instagram and Facebook are owned by the same company, Meta.
Affected users warned their followers to ignore any messages they received from them and to not engage with their profiles until the matter was resolved.
"I was blackmailed, saying if I took the video they would stop, but it's getting worse," one user wrote to their followers after their account was compromised.
Hackers generally take over social media accounts to try and trick an account's followers into investing in scams, or else an attempt to demand a ransom from the account owner in order to give them back control of their account.
How to keep your Insta account safe
- Enable two-factor authentication, or 2FA. This will make it impossible for anyone to log into your account unless they also have access to your phone or a specific 2FA device you have set up.
- Change your passwords. Keep your social media and e-mail passwords fresh, changing them frequently. Passwords that include a combination of lower and uppercase, symbols and numbers are hardest to crack.
- Think before you click. Do not click links from non-trusted sources, or links which seem dubious or unusual.
- Ignore video or money requests. If somebody online asks you to record videos or send them money, do not comply.