Rogue app compromises 500,000 Instagram accounts

InstaAgent collected and sent users' unencrypted account details to unknown servers before it was spotted

An app that stole up to half a million Instagram users' account details has been pulled from the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store.

Developer David Layer-Reiss, of Peppersoft Development, discovered that "Who Viewed Your Profile InstaAgent" was collecting login credentials to users' Instagram apps, and sending them, unencrypted, to the developer's server.

Instagram account usernames and passwords were then relayed to unknown servers in plain text, as Layer-Reiss demonstrated with a screen capture shared on Twitter.

It was also responsible for a fair bit of shameless self-promotion, spamming users' Instagram feeds with advertisements for the app without their permission.

He shared his findings in a series of tweets this morning, speculating that the developer had gained access to over 500,000 Instagram accounts.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

The free app, which promised users the ability to see who was viewing their Instagram profile, topped the UK and Canadian stores before it was removed earlier today.

A number of apps advertising similar features still exist despite warnings from Instagram to avoid them and attempts to regulate third-party clients.

Apps offering an influx of new followers, claiming to sell likes, or revealing profile viewers generally do not work because information that is not shared with users is not shared with third-party applications, either. In most cases, they simply violate Instagram's terms of service.

To confuse things further, a legitimate app called InstaAgent is available for iOS, this one created by Philadelphia-based developer Craig Pearlman. Pearlman has tweeted about the confusion, attempting to differentiate his app from the information-stealing client making headlines. 

With hundreds of thousands likely affected, anyone who has downloaded the app should consider their Instagram account compromised. Users are advised to remove the app, revoke its access on Instagram, change their password, and monitor their account.

Advertisement - Article continues below

For those who have recycled log-in information for other services, it is best to monitor those accounts and reset those passwords as well - and perhaps not reuse passwords this time.

In the mean time, everyone is left wondering what the developer intended to do with half a million Instagram account details.

An Instagram spokesman told IT Pro"These types of third-party apps violate our platform guidelines and are likely an attempt to get access to a user's accounts in an inappropriate way. We advise against installing third-party apps like these. Anyone who has downloaded this app should delete it and change their password."

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/internet-security/354417/avast-and-avg-extensions-pulled-from-chrome
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019
Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/laptops/354533/dell-xps-13-new-9300-hands-on-review-chasing-perfection
Laptops

Dell XPS 13 (New 9300) hands-on review: Chasing perfection

14 Jan 2020
Visit/web-browser/30394/what-is-http-error-503-and-how-do-you-fix-it
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020