Technical documentation for InstaTracker™ web application

    Instagram account hacking through SS7 vulnerability of cellular networks.

    Step 1 : Introduction

    In the early 2000's, with the expansion of high-speed Internet coverage and the cheapening of communication tariffs, people around the globe gained access to the Internet. Portable devices (smartphones, tablets and PCs) also got more affordable thanks to technological advance reducing production costs. These two factors provided each Internet user with opportunities for creating info-content independently with practically zero financial costs - both at the production stage and during its further "promotion". However, there were only a few tools for promoting content over the Internet at that time.

    Steady demand created supply. And in the late 2000's, a new phenomenon emerged - social media. They quickly penetrated various sectors of society and became an integral part of modern information infrastructure. Social media took on the role of a publicly accessible platform facilitating the distribution of user content for free. Their structure allowed making any person, capable of catching the audience's interest in just a few days under otherwise equal conditions and without extra expensive means of promotion previously used in mass media.

    Step 2 : Instagram features

    Instagram It's not only one of the top apps available for download via Apple AppStore and Google Play Market, but also one of the most popular social media and marketing platforms with worldwide coverage. Any account owner is offered several basic features: publications, communications, and ratings.

    Available publications:

    1. Author's photo, video and audio content
    2. Carousels combining several types of posts
    3. Geotags (showing a current location)
    4. Hashtags combining publications into discrete groups
    5. Online video broadcasts supporting group chats
    6. Short stories published by a user within 24 hours.

    Communication options:
    Instagram, on top of social media features, it fully supports a set of basic functions offered by messenger apps ( WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Snapchat, FB, Skype ):

    1. Instant text messaging
    2. Sending and receiving files of various formats
    3. Video communication between multiple users
    4. Creating polls aimed at getting feedback from subscribers

    Rating options:

    1. Subscribers and subscriptions
    2. Likes left under all the posts
    3. Posted comments to photos, videos, and carousels
    4. The number of click-throughs to an account since the most recent publication

    Estimated indicators are taken into account by the smart algorithms used by Instagram contributing to the popularization of both each individual post and a profile as a whole.

    A set of main features attracts quite different social groups of users from some average content consumers to people with large business accounts interested in promoting their business. Moreover, today it is difficult to imagine any public persona without a hyped Instagram account.

    Step 3 : Instagram hacking methods

    From the early days of social media, there was much concern about user data security. There is a continuous race between developers and experts in scanning for vulnerabilities. And each party was able to take the lead in a different time period. Day by day, increasingly up-to-date solutions were offered for both protecting and hacking user accounts.

    There is no point in describing all the existing methods of hacking Instagram introduced previously, since one thing unites them - the lack of relevance at this moment in time. If vulnerabilities in a very popular app are made public, then its developers do their best to successfully eliminate such vulnerabilities. Moreover, the search for "holes" is a rather specific task feasible only for experts in this area. The most promising are stable tools available today to a common user.

    InstaTracker™ web interface is one of these tools. Its structure allows remotely restoring password from a specified account, while bypassing two-factor authentication system used by Instagram. There's no need for accessing a smartphone or tablet, installing and activating software. It is enough to use a currently relevant vulnerability of SS7 cellular network protocol.

    Step 4 : The role of two-factor authentication vulnerability in Instagram hacking

    Any Instagram user specifies a cell phone number at profile registration. This procedure, in case of password loss, allows verifying identity to initiate restoring procedure. To this very number, a service SMS will be sent containing a restoration link. After clicking on this link, a user will be asked to assign a new password to his or hers account.

    This defensive integration used by the media platform initially designed to provide additional security measures, is, in fact, its biggest "hole", since this vulnerability allows accessing absolutely any account without its owner's consent. Meanwhile, Instagram developers are unable to address this challenge and contribute to fixing this vulnerability in any manner, since it is in the area of responsibility of mobile operators.

    InstaTracker™ web application fully supports remote interception of restoration links, since it exploits SS7 vulnerability of cellular network protocol. Having intercepted an SMS with a verification code, InstaTracker™ users become capable of restoring password from a target Instagram account and running it in the future. The entire process is fully automated and does not require an account holder's consent. This process runs in the background and does not affect the operation of a target device.

    Step 5 : SS7 vulnerability of cellular network protocol

    It is generally believed that cellular operators (providers) are technological innovators with powerful cutting-edge equipment with resistance to various threats. This image is purposefully shaped by present-day ads aimed at constantly increasing a subscriber base. However, in reality, things look quite different. Cellular networks are a complexly interconnected system that combines many smaller subsystems. And, like in any large-scale technological structure, a number of critical vulnerabilities come into the picture.

    E.g., a technology for signal transmission between users (SS7 protocol) was developed back in the 1970s. At that time, its security was provided by protecting communication hubs from physical impact aimed at signal interception. Currently, SS7 operates online based on IP-networks allowing establishing a connection to this protocol and accessing subscribers data from outside. That is, special-purpose tools and an infobase allow receiving, sending, and intercepting messages within the network remotely. At the same time, even the world's top mobile operators can't get rid of this vulnerability, and the average attack success level exceeds 95%.

    By specifying a URL or a username of your target, you can activate a custom InstaTracker™ algorithm for identifying a phone number of your target account, which will be attacked for intercepting an incoming SMS with a restoration link. When this operation ends successfully, you only need to log in to our Instagram app emulator to download an archive of user files.

    Step 6 : Remote Instagram app emulator

    Instagram emulator is a remote web-app created by InstaTracker™ developers. It runs on an Android virtual machine. This emulator serves as a temporary storage for a target account data. Simply said, after hacking, a target account is launched using this Instagram emulator, and then an archive with user files is generated.

    Contents of a provided archive:

    1. Username and password for authorization
    2. Correspondence in Direct, attached documents
    3. A list of all comments, likes, and hashtags posted
    4. Content published since day one, including photos, videos, and Stories

    **This archive was checked with an antivirus for malicious attachments and is completely safe for downloading.

    Step 7 : System requirements of InstaTracker™

    Since it's not an on-premise software package, this solution runs on equipment provided by its developers and does not require significant computing power from a user.

    System requirements:

    • Stable Internet connection for downloading big files (sometimes over 3 GB) without disconnections.
    • A current version of a modern browser (Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, etc.)
    • This app can open archives with a .zip extension. It also supports RAR-files for Android devices, iZip (iOS), and WinRAR (Windows). Devices running on MacOS have a built-in archiver available via Finder. Note that this app collection serves as guidelines only.

    Step 8 : Conclusion

    The methods described above have been proving their effectiveness regarding Instagram hacking for several years already. App developers are well aware of these vulnerabilities, but limitations and restrictions in terms of authority prevent them from fixing these vulnerabilities. Cellular operators do not intent to upgrade their signal distribution system because of high equipment costs. Therefore, currently any discussion regarding this issue is rather local in nature and takes place only at specialized forums and conferences. This issue is not known to a wide range of consumers.

    Insta-Tracker™ exploits the listed vulnerabilities for the benefit of its users. Its interface is shown at (www.instatracker.org) and is available online. Thousands of clients have already tested it for effectiveness as evidenced by hundreds of positive reviews and a consistently high level of expectations satisfaction.


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