Secureworks, a cybersecurity company has detailed a new phishing campaign that’s aimed at hijacking popular Instagram accounts and selling them back to owners for ransom.
The campaign is said to have been active since last year, and in one instance, they’ve been found to be selling the hijacked accounts in underground forums. Hackers here are inviting victims to connect and negotiate with them through WhatsApp and text messages, which if tracked back, revealed the set-up is based in Turkey.
Hijacking Instagram Accounts
Instagram is where most celebrities flock around. And this draws more followers and interactive content regularly. This may sometimes result in infringing copyrighted content, and they’re regularly warned for it too. But, some perpetrators are leveraging this mechanism for hijacking popular accounts and selling them back for ransom.
As detailed by the researchers at Secureworks, a new Instagram campaign aimed at hijacking popular accounts is in wild, which people should be aware of. This starts with crooks’ direct messaging popular accounts on instances of a purported copyright infringement.
Even though there’s aren’t any, they mention a login page (phishing) for targets to log in through it for solving the infringement issue. And when the unsuspecting users did, they immediately login and change the credentials, resulting in blocking the legitimate users later.
They then modify the “username by a variation of ‘pharabenfarway‘ followed by a number that appears to be the number of followers for the hijacked account,” Secureworks noted. The hackers then add a comment to the hijacked profile as “this Instagram account is held to be sold back to its owner,” accompanied by a shortened WhatsApp link (wa . me) and a contact number.
While the WhatsApp chat is for victims to negotiate with the hacker, the phone number is where hackers can text message victims for negotiating. While demanding ransom for restoring the account, few affiliated with hackers are seen selling the hijacked accounts’ access in underground forums for $40,000 too.
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