In short: Hackers have begun flooding Instagram with ill-gotten virtual goods for sale, including Fortnite accounts loaded with V-Bucks and purchases, along with access to botnets they’ve built, among other things. Spotify accounts were also found among the goods up for grabs. Motherboard spoke to one of the hackers behind the massive effort, an enigma by the name of Root Senpai, who seems to be part of a larger hacker collective of sorts that operate on Instagram. Where hackers follow one another and end up building a directory of sorts that potential buyers can use to shop around. Many of the botnets are based in the Mirai network, a large and overarching network of internet of things devices that have been compromised and can thus be programmed to carry out commands or bombard web addresses with traffic.
Background: Stealing and selling accounts of all sorts is nothing new, and while it has been prevalent in the gaming world, any account with any type of value, such as Google accounts that have Play Store purchases or linked payment methods on them, may be ripe for the picking. In this regard, seeing Spotify and Fortnite as popular targets for these sorts of hacks is no surprise; Fortnite skin and cosmetic item purchases can be quite expensive, and Spotify accounts can be sold to give the buyer premium access to the service, without even alerting the account owner in some particularly well-orchestrated cases.
Impact: For starters, becoming the backbone of a botnet sales effort on such a massive scale is sure to have an effect on the Mirai network, which could affect the functionality of devices using it for legitimate purposes. As these items rise in popularity, hacking could become more lucrative and thus more commonplace, and the types of accounts targeted may morph into a wider selection. Arguably the largest impact here will be on Instagram, or rather on Facebook. The service has had problems with content moderation in the past, an issue that the company is currently catching legal heat for in many countries. The seemingly common issue of content that is being hacked and sold is unlikely to make the situation any better for Facebook or Instagram.