Instagram locks old user names with the new Anti-Squatting function – Testing is ongoing

instagram locks

Instagram is now testing a new feature designed to lock usernames automatically 14 days after owners switch to a new handle, as mobile researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered in an Android platform Alpha version.

Wong says that when the previous owner switched to a new handle, a well – known use of bots designed to sweep usernames should be stopped.

Wong found the automatic Instagram username feature currently being tested on the Instagram Android app APK in Alpha, used in Strings.xml to store all the string resources needed for easier translation of Android apps.

“Instagram should roll out this feature as soon as possible. Stop squatters from ruining Instagram,” said wong, while mentioning that username squatters already sent her directly to Twitter.

Some of them who believed they created the feature also sent dead threats via DMs to show how much a 14-day automated username lock after changes in the handle angered crooks using squatting bots.

String xmlInstagram Alpha strings.xml (credit: Kieron Quinn)

It is important to note that if this feature is finally added to the Instagram platform, the user accounts will not be protected from hacking.

It is advisable to protect your Instagram account from being hacked and taken over by cyber criminals by using two-stage authentication (2FA) applications (e.g. mobile duo and Google Authenticator) or physical security keys, while avoiding the use of SMS2FA that relies on external carrier networks that may be intercepted by potential attackers.

Last week Google announced the addition of a new G – Suite Admin console option to help disable telephone options as 2FA methods for G – Suite Accounts, thereby preventing users from using unsafe SMS and voice authentication codes.

Instagram added 2FA support and account verification as part of August 2018 and provides a detailed support document explaining how to use third-party authentication applications to add extra security to your account.

In October 2018, Wong also uncovered an opt-in feature designed to provide accurate location history to its parent company Facebook, even if the app did not run on the device.

Instagram, as a “Facebook Product”, is testing Facebook Location History in their app.

It allows tracking the history of precise locations from your device, now through Instagram app too


Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.