Russian hackers targeting kids' Instagram accounts - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Russian hackers targeting kids' Instagram accounts

A Valley woman says her daughter's Instagram account was hacked by Russian crooks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A Valley woman says her daughter's Instagram account was hacked by Russian crooks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

It's been 10 days since Russian hackers hijacked a Valley woman's Instagram account, which she set up for her daughter to post dancing pictures. And she still cannot regain access to the account, or get Instagram to shut it down.

"I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. What are they going to do with the account?" said "Kristie," whose last name CBS 5 Investigates agreed to withhold because of concerns that hackers will target her again.

Kristie says she set up the account for her 12-year-old daughter Sara, who is a competitive dancer.

"She travels all over the country," said Kristie.

Sara uses the account to network with other young dancers and as a promotion tool.

Kristie says she created the account using her own email and Facebook page, and only allows Sara access to it by using Kristi's phone. She thought she had all of the "safety bases" covered.

But last Monday, she got an email alert that someone had changed the password to the Instagram account.

"It was routing through an email, an '.ru' email account, which I looked up and it looked like it was in Russia," said Kristie.

Soon, her daughter's profile name and the writing on the page were changed to Russian.

Experts say Russian organized crime groups are switching their focus from email to social media when they target their victims.

"They've shifted their techniques to try to take over social media accounts, where your guard isn't as high as maybe it is with email," said Ken Colburn from Data Doctors.

Colburn says the goal is often for the hackers to impersonate someone you know, so they can get you to click on a link or access a malicious website.

Kristie says she tried to contact Instagram through the company's hacking portal, but the links led to a dead end.

CBS 5 Investigates reached out to Instagram as well. A company official sent us a series of links and instructions for Kristie to follow, but they also appear to lead to a dead end.

"Honestly, I just want the account deleted," said Kristie.

Colburn says social media users can avoid similar problems by using two-factor authentication. It requires the web company to send a text or code to your cell phone any time someone tries to change your password. Some companies use two-factor authentication any time customers log on.

"So someone in Russia, they have your name and password, but they don't have your phone, so they can't get in," said Colburn.

You can find out how to use two-factor authentication for all of your social media accounts by clicking here.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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