My Instagram Account Got Hacked: What To Do To Avoid It Happening to YOU
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind at Oliamoda, from celebrating 35 years of life to losing my business in an instant; my emotions have been tested. I have been building my brand on Instagram for the past five years and even though I have other platforms like this blog, Facebook and Pinterest, Instargm is by far my biggest. It is also the place I spend most of my time on due to the connections and relationships that this platform makes possible.
The unthinkable happen on August 10th, 2018. My account was taken over by hackers. These hackers, extortionists or criminals, we could call them all three, took over all I have built and worked for in an instant and demanded money to regain access to my Instagram account.
How it happened:
I received a collaboration email, that looked like many other collab requests that I get on a daily basis. I clicked on the link and it prompted me to log into my IG account. I thought nothing of it at the time. I checked out the brand, sent them my quotes and media kit and went on with my day. It happened to be the day I posted a collaboration with Herbal Essence on my IG. Later in the day, I went in to see how the post was performing and checked my DMs. I was stunned to see my account logged out with a message that “oliamoda” account does not exist.
My heart was beating a mile a minute. I quickly went to my computer to investigate and found the same result. I found an email from IG saying that my email was changed. I clicked on the button that says “If it is not you click here to revert it”, but it did nothing. I clicked and clicked and realized that I was in deep trouble. The hackers changed my username, my password, and the email connected to my account. I felt completely helpless! How could someone so easily take complete control of my account, my brand, OliaModa?!
On Instagram’s help page it says bright and clear if you delete your account it is irreversible. With this message in mind I was manipulated further. I filled out the missing account form on IG help page, but had little faith that I will get through to anyone.
I then discovered an email with subject line HACK. This is where my real nightmare began. Remembering what I found on IG helpline, I fell into hackers trap. They demanded money via bitcoin and threatened to DELETE my account. I thought and stressed all day about what to do. I called everyone I knew and learned of other bloggers who have gone through this or were going through the same scary this at the same time as me. I received a great piece of advice from someone who once worked at FB, fill out the form and wait till Monday. It will get resolved he promised, but I just could not wait, knowing my professional future and company was on the line….
Instead, I stared at my computer, getting myself more worried and more depressed. I could not bare the thought of losing five years worth of hard work and content. I negotiated with the hackers to send them money via Western Union, not bitcoin. This is when I realized these guys were based in the Ukraine.
I found a few articles that headlined about Russian hackers attacking IG accounts. Hackers could be from anywhere, much of the media focuses on Russian and Chinese hackers, but these specific hackers were based in Ukraine. They are the same ones who attacked so many other bloggers within the same time period as I was targeted. I also learned about incidents with Turkish hackers, Indian and so many more. I felt doomed and manipulated by these criminals. I was promised I will receive my account back once they receive “their” money. After agonizing over the decision of whether to pay them I regretfully did so. Sadly I got nothing in return.
As this was happening to me, I received an enormous amount of support from other fellow bloggers. I also learned of another blogger named Darcy who was in the same shoes as me at the same time. She too has written about her terrifying experience. Read it here. We supported each other through this ordeal, which seemed lonely and scary to say the least.
As per a recent tweet and Refinery blog post, “Instagram is aware of the problem and is doing everything they can to help those affected.” In a recent tweet they mention that they are changing the two factor authentication process to make it stronger and safer. This step cannot happen any faster with so many large accounts being affected by this epidemic.
After almost 72 agonizing hours, I received a log in email to get my account back from Instagram. I was overjoyed to say the least. I turned on my 2 factor authentication and changed every log in possible on each of my accounts. You should always have the two factor turned on at all times. This simple step would have saved me from this life altering situation.
Instagram is hyper aware of this problem and is working hard to help hundreds of us effected. After all, Instagram provides a business platform for people like myself and other business accounts alike and should give all its users, especially those who use it as their main business platform, a safe and reliable site.
If this has happened to you or is happening to you, try not to panic. Do not respond to the hackers, the criminals. Fill out this webform on IG and stay patient and positive, it will be recovered. For more information, visit the Instagram Help Centre which includes steps you can take to restore your account, as well as Security Tips.
Ultimately, I learned a big lesson. Do not trust any email that comes your way and be thorough on how you review all emails as they could be a trap. These hackers are clever and can trick even the best business eye. They want your money and have tactics to tempt you to give in, but they cannot take your passion and love for what you do. Be cautious and smart about every move online. My goal is to inform you all about my experience and hope you are better equipped for a situation like mine.
Also remember the power of connections and support systems. I made some amazing new friends along this stressful path.
If you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Thank you for reading and keep styling,