Data Doctors: Instagram backup and security tips

Q: Is there a way to backup my Instagram account that I use for my business just in case something happens?

A: Instagram’s popularity has grown to the point that cyberthieves are increasingly focused on compromising accounts in order to take them over and demand a ransom.

If you don’t pay up, they’ll threaten to delete your account and all your posts, which is where having a backup makes a big difference.

It’s pretty easy to figure which users are more likely to pay. Celebrities, influencers and businesses with a large number of followers are some of the most common targets.

Instagram data download request

You can request a complete copy of the data associated with your Instagram profile, including all your photos, videos, stories, messages, comments, contacts and host of other items.

The data such as comments, likes and messages will have a strange file extension -.json — which stands for JavaScript Object Notation. You can view this raw data using your browser or any type of text editing program.

But this really isn’t a backup in the traditional sense, because you can’t push the data back up to Instagram to restore your profile as it was and it won’t include your future posts.

Ongoing backup option

An easy way to add to your downloaded data dump is by automatically making a copy of any photos or videos you post to Instagram moving forward.

My favorite tool for this is an awesome website called IFTTT, which stand for If This, Then That. It’s a free platform of tools that allow various cloud services to talk to each other.

If you have an online storage account such as Dropbox or Google Drive, you can use one of the IFTTT recipes that have already been created to automatically upload a copy of any photos or videos you post on Instagram from now on to your cloud storage.

Your caption, including hashtags, will become the file name in your storage account.

Account takeover protection tips

If your Instagram account is a vital component of your business, you should be aware of the tactics commonly being used to trick victims as well as security measures you should take.

A common method starts with a message from what appears to be a large company or marketing firm that claims to be interested in working with you. They generally include a link to their Instagram profile, which opens what appears to be the standard Instagram login page when clicked.

Scammers know that if users get excited about working with a large brand or being paid to promote a product, they won’t be thinking critically about putting their account details into a fake login page.

Another easy way for them to take over an account is when you use the same password on your Instagram account that you use elsewhere. Data breaches are so common these days; using the same password everywhere is an invitation for disaster.

It’s also imperative that you turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) for Instagram and the email account that’s tied to your Instagram profile. In fact, my advice is to turn on two-factor authentication for every online account you have.

Ken Colburn is founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any tech question on Facebook or Twitter.

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