Internet scammers target Instagram

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

Scammers are moving into the popular photo sharing smartphone application Instagram, prompting a warning from computer security experts.

Symantec cyber security threat analyst Ben Nahorney wrote this week of the growing presence of scammers on Instagram - a photo sharing app which uploads photos to a website.

He said it appeared scams using this website could be "fairly lucrative".

One scammer he found on the site had a profile which had been clicked on close to 10,000 times in just over a month.

"If only a fraction of users sign up for the premium rate service, give away personal information, or join the semi-legitimate referral service, the scammers could consider their efforts successful."

Instagram monitored for certain content, Mr Nahorney said, and accounts found guilty of violating Instagram's community guidelines were quickly disabled.

But he said other ways to avoid being scammed was:

* Set your account to Private. This way you have control over who follows you and who doesn't.

* Don't follow arbitrary followers. If you suspect an account isn't real, ignore it.

* Don't click shortened URLs unless you know where they lead.

* Optional: Don't follow or accept followers without photos. The exception to this rule is if you know the person.

* Report any suspicious accounts or comments to Instagram and follow their privacy and safety guidelines.

NetSafe cyber security consultant Chris Hails said scammers always went where things were popular, but he was not aware of any complaints by New Zealand users about falling victim to Instagram scammers.

However, he said mobile scamming was expected to continually increase and has been predicted to be a major problem next year.

He warned that people were more likely to fall for scams on cell phones.

"What tends to be happening is people are perceptive of scams and phishing on their desktop devices, but when you're on a smart phone it's a lot harder to see a shortened link and think it might be dodgy, they're more likely to just click through," he said.

He said the best advice was to be cautious.

"Most people are sensible enough to know that if it's an attractive blonde woman that they don't know, there might be some opportunity to scam you."

Instagram currently has about 100 million users worldwide.

- APNZ

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