A modified version of the Zeus virus is targeting Instagram by creating fake followers because Instagram followers are valuable. Very valuable.
According to Reuters, “In the world of cyber fraud, a fake fan on Instagram can be worth five times more than a stolen credit card number.” Apparently this isn’t a virus, per say, but actually an internet marketing scam where these “followers” are sold in batches of 1,000 to companies looking to use social media to create a buzz.
In fact, this marks the first time that a virus has been used to create social media followers. The virus basically hacks into people’s social media accounts and forces them to follow specific accounts, therefore inflating those account’s follower numbers.
While credit card numbers sell on the web for $6 per 1000 cards (wow, really?), 1000 Instagram followers goes for $15, and 1000 Instagram “likes” goes for $30.
Facebook (who of course now owns Instagram) is working on beefing up security to deal with the Instagram virus. In the meantime, protect yourself the usual ways: don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know, don’t respond to phishing emails — you know the drill.