Home Cyber Security News Instagram Login Vulnerability Could Allow Account Takeover in Minutes

Instagram Login Vulnerability Could Allow Account Takeover in Minutes

by Abeerah Hashim
Instagram app RCE flaw

A researcher has found a way to break into Instagram accounts within minutes. As discovered, an Instagram login vulnerability could let potential hackers bypass two-factor authentication.

Instagram Login Vulnerability Discovered

As revealed in a recent blog post, the researcher Laxman Muthiyah spotted a flaw that threatened Instagram users. He discovered an Instagram login vulnerability that could let an attacker bypass 2FA.

While looking for a probable flaw within the Facebook and Instagram platform, he tested the Instagram forgot password endpoint. While there seemed no problem with the password reset link on the web interface, the mobile platform told a different story.

Like a usual verification method, the platform sent a six-digit password reset code to a user’s mobile number. And, like other codes, it was possible for an adversary to brute force the code. The researcher believed there would be some rate-limiting to prevent brute-forcing.

Whilst the platform does apply rate-limiting, he also noticed two methods for which to bypass such limiting: the absence of IP blacklisting and a race condition. As stated in his blog,

I was able to send requests continuously without getting blocked even though the number of requests I can send in a fraction of time is limited.

Yet, it was not as easy as it sounds. The researcher explained that the code would expire within 10 minutes. So, to successfully exploit the flaw, an attacker would have to perform the attack using 1000s of IPs.

While the researcher has given the PoC in his blog post, he has also demonstrated the attack in the following video.

$30K Bounty Awarded

Although there were some limitations to potentially prevent a successful attack, the vulnerability was not a small issue. As explained by the researcher, an adversary could have possessed the resources to exploit it.

In a real attack scenario, the attacker needs 5000 IPs to hack an account. It sounds big but that’s actually easy if you use a cloud service provider like Amazon or Google. It would cost around 150 dollars to perform the complete attack of one million codes.

He reported the Instagram vulnerability to Facebook, upon which, Facebook awarded him a bounty of $30,000.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

You may also like

Latest Hacking News

Privacy Preference Center


The __cfduid cookie is used to identify individual clients behind a shared IP address and apply security settings on a per-client basis.

cookie_notice_accepted and gdpr[allowed_cookies] are used to identify the choices made from the user regarding cookie consent.

For example, if a visitor is in a coffee shop where there may be several infected machines, but the specific visitor's machine is trusted (for example, because they completed a challenge within your Challenge Passage period), the cookie allows Cloudflare to identify that client and not challenge them again. It does not correspond to any user ID in your web application, and does not store any personally identifiable information.

__cfduid, cookie_notice_accepted, gdpr[allowed_cookies]


DoubleClick by Google refers to the DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform which is a separate division within Google. This is Google’s most advanced advertising tools set, which includes five interconnected platform components.

DoubleClick Campaign Manager: the ad-serving platform, called an Ad Server, that delivers ads to your customers and measures all online advertising, even across screens and channels.

DoubleClick Bid Manager – the programmatic bidding platform for bidding on high-quality ad inventory from more than 47 ad marketplaces including Google Display Network.

DoubleClick Ad Exchange: the world’s largest ad marketplace for purchasing display, video, mobile, Search and even Facebook inventory.

DoubleClick Search: is more powerful than AdWords and used for purchasing search ads across Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

DoubleClick Creative Solutions: for designing, delivering and measuring rich media (video) ads, interactive and expandable ads.



The _ga is asssociated with Google Universal Analytics - which is a significant update to Google's more commonly used analytics service. This cookie is used to distinguish unique users by assigning a randomly generated number as a client identifier. It is included in each page request in a site and used to calculate visitor, session and campaign data for the sites analytics reports. By default it is set to expire after 2 years, although this is customisable by website owners.

The _gat global object is used to create and retrieve tracker objects, from which all other methods are invoked. Therefore the methods in this list should be run only off a tracker object created using the _gat global variable. All other methods should be called using the _gaq global object for asynchronous tracking.

_gid works as a user navigates between web pages, they can use the gtag.js tagging library to record information about the page the user has seen (for example, the page's URL) in Google Analytics. The gtag.js tagging library uses HTTP Cookies to "remember" the user's previous interactions with the web pages.

_ga, _gat, _gid