I went to check Instagram this morning and got an “unusual login attempt” warning! What’s going on?
First off, don’t panic. Instagram has some pretty slick built-in security tests so when it sees you log in from a remote location or sees someone try to log in to your account, it can trigger either this “unusual login attempt” or the “suspicious login attempt” condition. In both cases, Instagram sees that something atypical has happened and wants to ensure that everything’s okay.
In fact, you should be appreciative that Instagram is trying to help you ensure that you don’t lose your account access to some nefarious hacker, likely far across the globe!
Which doesn’t alleviate that sense of panic, I know. So let’s go through the simple steps of dealing with the unusual login attempt and then tightening up your Instagram account security once we’re done.
First off, here’s a warning I saw pop up in my own Instagram account:
Pretty darn sure I haven’t visited Moscow in the last few weeks – or ever, actually – so this is undoubtedly some Russian hacker trying to get into my account. Or, more likely, some program that’s trying to break into thousands of accounts simultaneously. Either way, definitely no bueno!
Since this wasn’t me trying to access my account from Moscow, I’m going to tap on the blue “This Wasn’t Me“. This ensures that Instagram keeps guarding my account against Russian login attempts. It also now prompts me to change my account password:
I strongly encourage you to use a password manager or otherwise track your passwords in a secure file or document; otherwise you’ll succumb to the common strategy of using the same password on multiple, or even dozens of sites. If any of them are compromised, then all of your accounts will be open to hacking. Remember, good passwords have upper and lower case letters, digits, and some punctuation marks. I’ve been using completely random passwords generated by 1Password, so they don’t have any patterns or aren’t even based on mnemonics. Essentially impossible to guess.
Enter your new highly complex, never been used on any other site password twice, then tap “Submit“. You should be all fixed up, though it might prompt you to log in to your account again “from scratch” by entering the account name / email / phone number and your new password. Double check nothing’s been compromised by going to your account info page. Mine’s clear:
If Instagram reports your account as frozen or locked out, make sure you aren’t using a VPN on your mobile device as they can show you as bouncing around the world which is highly suspicious to their algorithms. Also try going to the Instagram Web page to log in through a Web browser – then reset your password. None of that works? Well, now you’re in uncharted territory and should head over to the Instagram support center to try and get some help. Good luck.
If you’re logged back in and all is good, which is hopefully the case, it’s time to improve your account security. You’ve already picked a better – and unique – password, but you should turn on 2-factor authentication for your Instagram account! This means that even if someone has your password they still can’t log in without knowing the temporary security code that’s sent via text message to your phone. For you, it’s easy, but for anyone else, it stops ’em cold. Here’s my tutorial on how to enable 2-factor authentication on Instagram. Just do it.