I was Instagram Hacked
I’ve been hacked. I never thought I would write those words, but in retrospect I should have seen it coming. Here is what happened to me, and what steps I’ve taken since, as well as what I should have done to prevent it.
On Tuesday night I received this email from Instagram, luckily (or not) I was still awake and immediately clicked on the hyperlink – Revert this change (see screenshot) And please don't ask me why I am protecting the privacy of this hacker.
Notice the address at the bottom for Instagram? Yes, irony is not lost on me, either.
When I clicked on the hyperlink (heart racing at this point) I was shocked to see the following message as a response:
I closed the message, went back to the initial email, clicked the hyper-link again, same outcome. That is when the panic took hold. I, like a lot of you, thought there wasn’t a reason to change my passwords for all my accounts. I was lazy and tended to stick with one or two I could remember. I just thought, stupidly, who would want to hack into my account? I’m not a celeb, nor an influencer, I am just a female business owner from Cheshire. I obviously thought wrong, because apparently this person did!
My next step was to try (foolishly) to log into my account, but it was out of my control by then. I even tried to reset the password, but instructions were sent out to the new owner of my Instagram account. Here is what’s happened since that night.
- I followed the proper steps and reported the incident to Instagram. They asked for the email address, phone number and what device I used to sign up to my account. They also wanted to know when I last had access to my account, and any other information they might be able to use to verify me as the owner of my account. I sent them ALL relevant information, as well as the screen shots of my email and attempt to recover.
This was their response:
Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, we weren't able to verify that you own this account based on the information provided, which means that we can’t give you access to this account.
We do this to protect your account's privacy. If you can respond with details about the email or mobile phone number you used to sign up for your account, we may be able to assist your further. If you signed up on a mobile phone, please also let us know what type of device (such as iphone or Android) you used to create your account.
I then followed up with another email, again, providing all my information requested, as well as photos of myself, links to my website and Facebook business page. Overnight I was rewarded for all the effort with the follow up email:
We're still unable to confirm your identity and can't give you access to this account right now.
We won't be able to take further action on this request until you reply with the email, mobile phone number, and other information (such as the device you used to sign up) that you used to register for the account.
In my third attempt, I have provided the requested information again and offered HMRC letterhead correspondence, my passport, etc… After three long, terrifying days, I was finally rewarded. They granted me access back into my account.
OK, so I know for some of you this wouldn’t be a big deal. You'd say - Have the account, horrible hacker person, I will start again! But I feel violated and I also feel a tremendous since of defeat. I have spent the last two years, yes TWO YEARS building up my Instagram account. I’ve spent HOURS on it everyday, and I have connections made through Instagram that I now consider friends. My face, my family, my story, how hard it gets at times and also my victories - I’ve shared it all, and I didn’t want someone else to own that. I put myself out there, and to have someone take it away from me felt like a death of some sort.
And what I didn’t realize? I could have prevented it! I’ve got three words for you people: Two-factor Authentication. Yes, I use it for my banking, iTunes and Amazon, but never really gave Instagram and Facebook a second thought. Again, who would want to be me? It’s the first thing I did, after having a meltdown. It is now in place on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you haven’t done it, go and do it now.
Consider this: Without my Instagram account and Perch_Upholstery still belonging to said Russian, I was faced with the thought of starting over. Again you might think, she’s a small business, just whip up another account voilà . But there is a hell of a lot more to it, as a lot of you will know.
- I can’t have my business name back, and I wouldn’t want it, too confusing to new followers and clients.
- If I needed a new Instagram handle, it would have apply to all my social media: Twitter, Facebook and even my website.
- The actual costs involved, besides my time? Business cards, marketing materials, flyers, my banner that I use at Makers Markets, the roll up banner for trade shows. All of them have my Instagram handle and would need replacing.
- Most importantly-Time. We all invest time in our small creative businesses. Social media is such a wonderful equalizer, the more we put into it, the greater the rewards. I tend to put most of my time into Instagram, it appeals to me the most, and I get it. Starting from scratch is a terrifying thought!
OK, so there was a happy outcome to all of this, I was rewarded for my persistent emails to Instagram, I probably don’t even need to post this blog. But I am, if just one or two of you go and set up your Two-Factor Authentication it will be worth it. I have also written long posts in all my private networking group to remind people to set up theirs.
And if this happens to you? Here is my advice. Don’t give up. Be persistent with Instagram, provide them with all the information required. It is a free site, I would imagine that following up on hacking claims is probably not high on their agenda. I even read somewhere that they could get up to 10k claims a day. Yikes!
Thanks for the read, but please, if you haven’t done it, set up your two-factor, it is worth the minute it will take. As much as I kept referring to Perch_Upholstery as mine, at the end of the day, it was in the hands of Instagram.