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Instagram Announces Support for Two-Factor Authentication Apps and Streamlined Account Verification

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Instagram today announced several new security enhancements that are being implemented to make the social network safer for all users.

Starting soon, Instagram is implementing support for third-party authenticator apps, which will allow them to be used for two-factor verification purposes in lieu of a phone number.

Instagram has supported two-factor authentication for some time, but it was tied to a phone number and required users to receive text messages, which has proven to be insecure and left some Instagram users vulnerable to SIM hacking.


SIM hacking is a method hackers use to gain access to a person's phone number, using it to get into high-profile social media accounts. Some instagram accounts with short handles are valuable and have been stolen through this method, something a third-party authenticator app can protect against.

Instagram says that users can go to the Settings section of the Instagram app, choose Two-Factor Authentication, and then select "Authentication App" to implement two-factor authentication that does not involve a phone number.

Support for third-party authenticator apps is rolling out and will be available globally "in the coming weeks."

Along improved two-factor authentication, Instagram is also enhancing security through a new "About This Account" section that will be added to high-profile Instagram accounts. This feature will allow users to see more information about accounts that reach large audiences, allowing users to "evaluate the authenticity of the account."

To see more about an Instagram account, users can tap on a profile, tap the hamburger menu option and then select "About This Account." Information displayed will include the date the account joined Instagram, the country where it is located, recent username changes, and ads the account is running.

Starting in September, people who have accounts that reach large audiences will be able to review the information that will be available, and after that, the feature will roll out worldwide.

Instagram also plans to make it easier for Instagram users to earn a blue verified badge that lets people know an account is the "authentic presence of a notable public figure." Verification has been available on Instagram, but prior to now, there was no streamlined process for requesting account verification.

To be verified, an account must comply with Instagram's Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. We will review verification requests to confirm the authenticity, uniqueness, completeness and notability of each account. Visit the Help Center to learn more about Instagram's verification criteria.
Instagram users who want to apply for verification can do so by accessing the Settings app and choosing "Request Verification." Username, full name, and a copy of legal or business identification will be required. Like the other features announced today, the verification option is rolling out to users but could take some time to show up for everyone.

Article Link: Instagram Announces Support for Two-Factor Authentication Apps and Streamlined Account Verification
 

iLoveDeveloping

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2009
382
1,085
Ireland
Never understand authentication apps. I was using one for a while for 3 accounts. Got a new iPhone installed the app and it was reset. Lost 3 accounts because I couldn’t get back into them. For the average user phone number should be more than enough. I mean seriously who the hell is going to hack my SIM card. Come on.... I can see a use for it for users not wanting to hand over their phone number to shady services but maybe you shouldn’t be using those services anyway, just a thought.
 
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OldSchoolMacGuy

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Jul 10, 2008
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Wonder what they consider "large accounts". Nearly every one of my accounts has over 20k followers, with most well over 100k. Certainly the +100k will be considered large but I wonder what the cutoff is on the lower end.
[doublepost=1535478415][/doublepost]
Never understand authentication apps. I was using one for a while for 3 accounts. Got a new iPhone installed the app and it was reset. Lost 3 accounts because I couldn’t get back into them. For the average user phone number should be more than enough. I mean seriously who the hell is going to hack my SIM card. Come on.... I can see a use for it for users not wanting to hand over their phone number to shady services but maybe you shouldn’t be using those services anyway, just a thought.

Just last week several apps made headlines for being hacked through SIM exploitation. This type of news (that Mac Rumors also publishes) puts these apps in the spotlight, necessitating moves like this from Instagram, Twitter, and others.

The fact that we're seeing accounts exploited this way is a great indicator that these additional measures are needed.
 
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thisisnotmyname

macrumors 68020
Oct 22, 2014
2,381
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Never understand authentication apps. I was using one for a while for 3 accounts. Got a new iPhone installed the app and it was reset. Lost 3 accounts because I couldn’t get back into them. For the average user phone number should be more than enough. I mean seriously who the hell is going to hack my SIM card. Come on.... I can see a use for it for users not wanting to hand over their phone number to shady services but maybe you shouldn’t be using those services anyway, just a thought.

This happens semi-regularly if you have an "OG" screen name. Basically any single word screen name on twitter or insta can be sold for about $1000 or more. Doesn't matter if you are high profile or not. And yes, they will clone your SIM to do it.

edit: I shouldn't have said "clone" the SIM, either hack/exploit your provider (hi T-mobile) or social engineer/bribe an employee to redirect your number to their SIM.
 
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mujtaba.mir

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2014
531
398
You could have used Microsoft Authenticator which provides an automatic backup of your codes as well so if you swap your phones as well, you don’t lose access to your 2FA’s.
Never understand authentication apps. I was using one for a while for 3 accounts. Got a new iPhone installed the app and it was reset. Lost 3 accounts because I couldn’t get back into them. For the average user phone number should be more than enough. I mean seriously who the hell is going to hack my SIM card. Come on.... I can see a use for it for users not wanting to hand over their phone number to shady services but maybe you shouldn’t be using those services anyway, just a thought.
 
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AronDraws

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Oct 6, 2014
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Burbank, CA
someone went the hell out of their way to steal an old coworker's phone number a number of years ago. It was most puzzling.
 
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Secondempire

macrumors member
Oct 27, 2017
78
273
Ironic that their post about this increased security for accounts shows them using a version of iOS that stopped getting updates over a year ago.
 
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OldSchoolMacGuy

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Never understand authentication apps. I was using one for a while for 3 accounts. Got a new iPhone installed the app and it was reset. Lost 3 accounts because I couldn’t get back into them. For the average user phone number should be more than enough. I mean seriously who the hell is going to hack my SIM card. Come on.... I can see a use for it for users not wanting to hand over their phone number to shady services but maybe you shouldn’t be using those services anyway, just a thought.

You can switch the Google Authenticator app from phone to phone. Just follow the process on the Google Authentication webpage to transfer everything over to the new phone and it'll work just fine.
[doublepost=1535482405][/doublepost]
Wonder what they consider "large accounts". Nearly every one of my accounts has over 20k followers, with most well over 100k. Certainly the +100k will be considered large but I wonder what the cutoff is on the lower end.

Well, that answers my question. Logged into one of my accounts and got this message for "high engagement accounts like yours."

 
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ovo6

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Sep 10, 2015
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I never turn that one because if I add my phone number then people can find me on the app no way to disable that feature like Other apps so no 2 factor for me
 
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Prospekt

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Jul 5, 2009
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Wonder what they consider "large accounts". Nearly every one of my accounts has over 20k followers, with most well over 100k. Certainly the +100k will be considered large but I wonder what the cutoff is on the lower end.
[doublepost=1535478415][/doublepost]

Just last week several apps made headlines for being hacked through SIM exploitation. This type of news (that Mac Rumors also publishes) puts these apps in the spotlight, necessitating moves like this from Instagram, Twitter, and others.

The fact that we're seeing accounts exploited this way is a great indicator that these additional measures are needed.

I have 8k and I got the notification about being a high-reach account
 
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Mr. Heckles

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Mar 20, 2018
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Never understand authentication apps. I was using one for a while for 3 accounts. Got a new iPhone installed the app and it was reset. Lost 3 accounts because I couldn’t get back into them. For the average user phone number should be more than enough. I mean seriously who the hell is going to hack my SIM card. Come on.... I can see a use for it for users not wanting to hand over their phone number to shady services but maybe you shouldn’t be using those services anyway, just a thought.
You get recovery codes when you turn this one. It is important to save this info. Also, there are other ways to prevent from being locked out.

I’m very excited for this. Right now you if you have more than 1 account, one account won’t be protected unless you get a google voice number for the other account.
 
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effort

macrumors member
Sep 16, 2016
87
63
Los Angeles
This happens semi-regularly if you have an "OG" screen name. Basically any single word screen name on twitter or insta can be sold for about $1000 or more. Doesn't matter if you are high profile or not. And yes, they will clone your SIM to do it.

edit: I shouldn't have said "clone" the SIM, either hack/exploit your provider (hi T-mobile) or social engineer/bribe an employee to redirect your number to their SIM.

SIM Swap is exactly what happened to me thanks to a hacker who wanted my instagram handle (@effort). They called T-Mobile and took my phone number just to change my Instagram username.

I've tried and tried to report the incident to instagram via the app but I've got no response. It even says on my account that I previously owned the username. Does anyone know how to get in touch with a support team member that'll actually answer?!
 
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nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
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I frankly don't understand why important features like this are "rolling out in coming weeks" as opposed to now.
 
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OldSchoolMacGuy

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I frankly don't understand why important features like this are "rolling out in coming weeks" as opposed to now.

Facebook (and Instagram as part of it) are so huge that they don't roll out new features all at once. Instead, they roll out to smaller areas at a time. This allows them to be sure things are working correctly before continuing to push new features out to everyone. It's a smart way to do things.

If you've ever wondered (or are one of those that gets upset) about Facebook, Instagram, and others who release new updates to their apps every week and just have "Bug fixes and other updates." in the release notes, these updates are what add the ability to push those new features. They don't want to announce those new features in the update because then they can't roll them out gradually. You'd have a bunch of people complaining "WHY ISN'T IT WORKING ON MINE!!!! ‽??!!"
 
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nutmac

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Mar 30, 2004
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Facebook (and Instagram as part of it) are so huge that they don't roll out new features all at once. Instead, they roll out to smaller areas at a time. This allows them to be sure things are working correctly before continuing to push new features out to everyone. It's a smart way to do things.
While you aren't wrong, features like two factor isn't something most people use (they should but they don't). More people pay attention to new features on a launch date. And if the feature cannot be used, they tend to be forgotten.

And besides, Instagram's parent company Facebook had TOTP authentication for years. While things can always go wrong and rolling out in phases is safer, I think Instagram is taking more precaution than is warranted.

Also, let's not forget that some big companies, such as Apple, roll out major features to everyone on day 1.
 
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OldSchoolMacGuy

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While you aren't wrong, features like two factor isn't something most people use (they should but they don't). More people pay attention to new features on a launch date. And if the feature cannot be used, they tend to be forgotten.

And besides, Instagram's parent company Facebook had TOTP authentication for years. While things can always go wrong and rolling out in phases is safer, I think Instagram is taking more precaution than is warranted.

Also, let's not forget that some big companies, such as Apple, roll out major features to everyone on day 1.

It's not like this change is making major news. Most will never see this announcement on sites like this.

Instagram is already putting announcements within the app and they'll likely add a Story about it too when it rolls out to those chosen users.



I'll be surprised if they don't prompt users to enable it when it becomes available to them too.
[doublepost=1535495722][/doublepost]
Interesting! Did you get the notification recently?

I got the above notification the most recent time I opened the Instagram app.
 
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fairuz

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2017
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Just last week several apps made headlines for being hacked through SIM exploitation. This type of news (that Mac Rumors also publishes) puts these apps in the spotlight, necessitating moves like this from Instagram, Twitter, and others.

The fact that we're seeing accounts exploited this way is a great indicator that these additional measures are needed.
I agree the apps like Google Authenticator are less hackable, and the concept is good, but in practice they suck. Way too easy to lose your codes, never apparent whether restoring your phone or redownloading the auth app will erase them. Leads to more people asking customer support to let them into locked accounts, resulting in an even worse problem. It should really only be an option for advanced users who need the extra security, and there should be absolutely no reset method.

I wonder how usable an Apple ID is for auth in third-party apps. That's actually the best compromise for giving the average user good security nowadays.
 
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haruhiko

macrumors 603
Sep 29, 2009
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I can't find any option of enabling two-factor with authenticator app. I even turned 2FA off and on again. Only SMS is available.
 
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fairuz

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Aug 27, 2017
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You get recovery codes when you turn this one. It is important to save this info. Also, there are other ways to prevent from being locked out.

I’m very excited for this. Right now you if you have more than 1 account, one account won’t be protected unless you get a google voice number for the other account.
Google Authenticator doesn't have the recovery code in all cases. I remember having to guess whether wiping and restoring my phone from a backup would save it... turns out it does but only if I encrypt my backup. This kind of thing can't be left undocumented!

Being pedantic, if there is a recovery code, technically it's 1-factor auth and not 2. But still safer because you'll likely keep that code more securely than you would a password.
 
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Mr. Heckles

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Mar 20, 2018
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Google Authenticator doesn't have the recovery code in all cases. I remember having to guess whether wiping and restoring my phone from a backup would save it... turns out it does but only if I encrypt my backup. This kind of thing can't be left undocumented!

Not the authenticator, the service you’re using it for. If you use an authenticator app for gmail, you get recovery codes, same with Dropbox, Facebook, and others.
Being pedantic, if there is a recovery code, technically it's 1-factor auth and not 2. But still safer because you'll likely keep that code more securely than you would a password.

It’s still 2 factors.
Factor 1: your password
facror 2: the one time password OR the recovery code.
 
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fairuz

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2017
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Not the authenticator, the service you’re using it for. If you use an authenticator app for gmail, you get recovery codes, same with Dropbox, Facebook, and others.


It’s still 2 factors.
Factor 1: your password
facror 2: the one time password OR the recovery code.
Oh, I see. Google Auth also has some recovery code I was referring to. The services I've seen that give a recovery code always allow access with that code by itself, but I guess they don't have to.
 
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