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Fake Instagram 'Image Viewers' Are Latest Malware Fad

Do you use Instagram on your mobile device? Do you use a separate, third-party application to transfer your Instagram photos to your desktop PC?

Well, you might want to look twice at that application, because bundling malware or potentially unwanted programs into Instagram-related software is all the rage now, according to San Jose, California-based security company Malwarebytes. 

Malwarebytes' experts examined a number of Windows programs advertising themselves as Instagram "image viewers," or "image and video downloaders," and found that many of these pieces of software came bundled with other, less desirable types of programs.

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Instagram now surpasses Twitter in popularity, with 2.7 million more monthly active users than the micro-blogging service, according to digital analysis company eMarketers. To marketers of dodgy software, as well as cybercriminals, this means slapping the "Instagram" name on such applications makes it far easier to trick users into downloading and running them.

"In the case of Instagram, what we've seen out there could pose greater risk than, say, your average phishing site,"  Malwarebytes intelligence analyst Jovi Umawing wrote in a company blog post.

Malwarebytes found several instances of Instagram-related Windows executables that came bundled with potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), which ranged from annoying crapware to Trojans and other types of harmful malware.

Because eMarketers expects Instagram's user base to grow steadily until at least 2016, the number of threats disguised as Instagram add-ons will increase with it, Malwarebytes warns.

To keep yourself safe from these threats, you should run an antimalware program on your PC, and be very skeptical of off-brand programs that you come across on the Internet.

Email jscharr@techmedianetwork.com or follow her @JillScharr and Google+.  Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.