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26-Feb-2016 18:59

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However, in this case, the scammers did not upload any new images and neither did they change the usernames.

"It is unclear why these two identifying traits have been discarded.

Following the Linked In hack, password reuse has already been observed as one of the most dangerous of practices and has resulted in data breaches sustained by several high-profile firms.

Each user that signs up to the site via the link in the hacked Instagram account aids the hackers by filling their coffers, as they earn a commission. Unlike similar social media scams where hackers have taken over user accounts to promote adult sites, this particular scam lacks a few notable characteristics.

For instance, in other such scams, Symantec observed that the hacked accounts had a different username, full name, profile picture, bio and more.

According to Symantec security researcher Satnam Narang, the hackers refrained from adding or deleting any of the older pictures already uploaded by the original account holders except the profile image, which was changed by the scammers, was found to be the image of a woman, "regardless of the gender of the actual account owner."Narang said, "Over the last few months, we have observed Instagram accounts being hacked and used to promote adult dating spam.

However, everything else remains in tact, including the modified profile image and link," Narang added.

Weak passwords are the culprit Although it is still unclear as to how the hackers were able to compromise the Instagram accounts, Symantec opines that weak passwords and the practise of reusing passwords are the culprit behind the hacking spree.