SECURITY FIRM Malwarebytes has warned Instagram users that downloading third-party applications that enable them to download their Instagram photos and videos to desktop machines could expose them to a number of security vulnerabilities.
Malwarebytes said that the possible threats - files and websites alike - that take advantage of a software's popularity could spell bad news for users in terms of internet congestion, unwanted redirection to websites and possible installation of other programs without the user's consent.
"In the case of Instagram, what we've seen out there could pose greater risk than, say, your average phishing site," said Malwarebytes intelligence analyst Jovi Umawing in a unpublished blog post sent exclusively to The INQUIRER.
Malwarebytes believes Instagram is a growing concern for internet users, especially considering the latest report from digital marketing analysis company eMarketers published in March, which pointed out that Instagram surpassed Twitter in terms of active mobile users in the US by 2.7 million. The firm also expects user numbers to steadily grow until at least 2016.
"With news of Instagram finally beating Twitter, it's high time that we stop, look back, and remind ourselves of the potential dangers lurking on the net specifically crafted to target Instagram users and lurkers alike," the company warned.
"Doing a Google search surely yields sites where one can download several programs involving Instagram. Some of which can either be classed as 'image viewers' or 'image and video downloaders' publicly-accessible accounts."
Malwarebytes sampled a number of files that come bundled with downloads of such third-party programs and found a number of potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).
"Since Instagram can be visited via Web browsers, we can easily say that these downloads target any Windows computer user who just want to keep copies of photos and videos that are likely not their own," the firm added.
Last year, Symantec warned of a scam targeting Instagram users via Facebook in the form of an application called "Instagram for PC".
The security firm claimed that over 4,000 people had posted about the "Instagram for PC" website on Twitter and Facebook, while over 2,000 shared it on Google+, for a total of over 10,000 social shares.
The application claimed to run Instagram in an emulator so PC users could access the service without a mobile phone. µ
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