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What the InstaAgent Scam Means for App Developers Everywhere

by 2nd March, 2017

People have a strange fascination with knowing who visits their social media profiles, but social media sites have always kept this information confidential. When InstaAgent, an app that claimed to tell people who was visiting their Instagram profiles, came out, the Internet went crazy with enthusiasm. Somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 users signed up, eager to know who is most interested in their online identities. Unfortunately, InstaAgent ended up being a malicious scam, failing to accurately identify profile visitors, while stealing the login information of users.

InstaAgent compromised the accounts of over 100,000 Instagram users.

What Was the InstaAgent Scam?

The InstaAgent app promised to track who was visiting the profile of Instagram users, so users could see who was most interested in their page. However, Instagram keeps all of this information private to protect the confidentiality of users, so any app claiming to provide such a service is likely a scam. Instead, InstaAgent was providing its users with fake results, while stealing their usernames and passwords, which were then sent to a remote and unknown server.

The app used the login information of users to hack into their accounts and post images and advertisements promoting their products. Since Instagram has banned third-party apps from uploading images to a profile without the user’s consent, this was illegal and malicious activity. Somehow, despite it being a major scam, the InstaAgent app managed to make its way into both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.

How Did InstaAgent Make it in the App Store?

App developers were understandably furious that InstaAgent made it into the app store, when so many legitimate apps are denied. How did a bogus app, designed to steal the private information of users, manage to make it past the heavily guarded walls of the App Store? According to MacRumors.com, the developer behind the app had managed to get multiple apps approved by the App Store, despite being known for creating malicious apps. The site attributes this to gaps in the Apple review process. Higher security precautions will need to be taken before Apple accepts apps in the future.

Consumers need to feel confident that their information remains private.

What Does This Mean for App Developers?

The InstaAgent scam has many consumers concerned. While most people are cautious about downloading independent apps from unknown developers, the Apple App Store is widely viewed as a secure location. Moving forward, consumers are likely to be more cautious when downloading apps, and app developers will have to buckle down on both security and transparency in order to gain the trust of consumers. In addition to pulling the app, both Apple and Google will be increasingly meticulous in their review process. App developers will have to carefully follow all updated submission guidelines in order to make it past the app store doors.

While InstaAgent isn’t the only malicious app to make it into the App Store, it’s perhaps the most glaring example. Social media sites have made it clear that users cannot see who visits their profile. Any app claiming to provide such a service is almost certainly a scam. Since the embarrassing fiasco, both Apple and Google will have to step up their security screenings to ensure this mistake isn’t repeated. Likewise, app developers will have to work harder than ever to develop trusted apps. Contact us today to learn how our app development platform can assist you in creating a safe and reliable app that will easily win the trust of consumers.

Simon

Simon has worked in the software industry for over 20 years; intent on always producing work of the highest standard and creating software products that genuinely makes things better for people. Simon has previously held positions ranging from Developer, Technical Consultant, Head of Development through to CTO and more recently founder and CEO of several high profile technology companies.

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