Increasingly, social media sites are adding two-factor authentication to improve security for their users, and Instagram is apparently looking to join their ranks. Instagram power user Anthony Carbone ("Wolf Millionaire") first called attention to the site's testing of two-factor authentication in a blog post earlier this month.
Instagram did not respond to our request for information about the reported new security feature. However, the new authentication option was confirmed yesterday in an article on TechCrunch.
By adding two-factor authentication, Instagram is offering users a way to better protect their account information and keep hackers from accessing their accounts. The feature works by having users verify their identities with a second step beyond the standard login, usually by inputting a code sent via text message to their cellphones.
'It's About Time'
Carbone called attention to the new feature in a February 7 post on his Wolf Millionaire blog. However, he updated the post the following day to note that the feature did not appear to be working smoothly and that users should enable it only at their own risk.
With well over 400 million users now, Instagram has become a growing target for hackers. Over the past few months, several celebrity accounts — including those of former X-Factor contestant Chloe Khan and WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon — have reportedly been targeted by attackers.
"It's about time Instagram took it's [sic] user accounts security seriously and rolled this feature out as a lifeline to secure our valuable accounts but we're going to have to be a little patient until it's completely bug proof so we don't get locked out of our own accounts," Carbone wrote in his blog post.
Many Other Sites Offer 2FA
Google, Twitter and Amazon are among other sites that have given users the option to secure their information with two-factor authentication. Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, has offered the feature — called login approvals on its site — for more than four years.
Instagram recently encountered a different kind of security glitch after it introduced account switching earlier this month. The new capability, available for iOS and Android, allows users to add different Instagram accounts under one profile, enabling them to more easily switch from one to the other.
Shortly afterward, however, reports emerged that the new feature allowed some unauthorized users to view other people's Instagram notifications and messages. The issue was reportedly resolved as of Sunday, according to an update in Android Central.
A study by the mobile identity company TeleSign last year found that a majority (70 percent) of people they surveyed didn't have "a high degree of confidence" in password-protected security. However, more than half (56 percent) said they were unfamiliar with two-factor authentication.
"Protecting online accounts with a simple username/password is simply not safe enough in today's environment," TeleSign senior vice president of marketing Brian Carny told us via a spokesperson.