Social media firms clamp down on hacked accounts

Instagram, Twitter and TikTok are targeting usernames harvested by the OGUsers community

A hacker with Instagram's logo reflected in his glasses

Instagram has disabled hundreds of accounts that were stolen during an online hacking operation designed to harvest and sell rare usernames. 

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app is taking down accounts harvested by the OGUsers community, according to The Verge. This is a notorious website known for trafficking stolen usernames to hackers.

OGUsers has helped to facilitate the hacking of accounts through methods such as SIM swapping, which is where a hacker gains control of someone's phone number and uses it to reset passwords and take control of their social media accounts. 

"Today, we're removing hundreds of accounts connected to members of the OGUsers forum. They harass, extort and cause harm to the Instagram community, and we will continue to do all we can to make it difficult for them to profit from Instagram usernames," a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge

TikTok and Twitter have also taken action on accounts that have been harvested by the same group, according to cyber security expert Brian Krebs. He reports that it is a "coordinated" approach by the companies to take down these highly sought-after usernames, some of which have been involved in "lucrative" resales.

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The OGUsers forum earned notoriety in the summer after it gained access to dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts and used them to spread a Bitcoin scam. Approximately 130 accounts were targeted, including ones belonging to Elon Musk and former US president Barak Obama. 

Although social media companies have began to taken action, SIM swapping is still a relatively easy hack, according to Eset cyber security specialist Jake Moore

"It is still one of the most commonly used attack vectors to bypass text message authentication and hack accounts," he said. "However, there is a way to counteract this method, and this is by utilising an authenticator application when prompted to enter the one-time password or OTP."

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