I want to update you guys on my Instagram saga. It’s been 4 weeks now since I was hacked. I tell you what, I have learned an awful lot in those 4 weeks. One big thing that I have learned is that prevention is KEY. There really is no come back for many accounts that get hacked. So it’s critical that we spread the word on two-factor login to try to keep people’s accounts safely with them, out of the hands of hackers.
Two-factor login means that you enter your password AND a special code that Insta or Facebook sends to you. In this case, even if a hacker gets your password, they can not login to you account. It is the only way to keep your account safe so turn it on.
In this post, I am going to update you on what’s happened this past month & include a section on what to do if you get hacked and a section on how to secure your account so you can’t get hacked.
I wrote a post shortly after the hack that goes through what happened and tips to prevent it happening to you. If you haven’t read that, you can read my Instagram hacker story here. I have been through so much over the four weeks since that I want to update you on today.
In a nutshell, I got hacked through an email link. I clicked a link that on the face was instagram.com/shopname I was nieve and signed into Instagram via that link. In reality, I was simply giving a hacker my login details.
He or she had fully researched me in advance and knew my name and location so they used a VPN to login to my Instagram account via Dublin, and immediately changed the username, password, and email address. The email address they used had my name in it so it all looked legit to Insta. So this isn’t some kid messing around, this is a highly planned and organized hacker who knows just what they are doing.
They knew just how to take my account so that I couldn’t recover it myself. If a hacker changes email a few times then deletes the account, the Instagram anti-hacker auto software doesn’t work. And poof, my 39k following account of 5 years is officially gone.
Getting a Facebook Human
I am so so so lucky to have a huge support system on social media, I had suggestions flooding in and I ended up with a choice of trying two things to recover my page. One, hire an ethical hacker who was recommended to me by a few influencers who successfully used him to recover their account (at a fairly high cost). Or, two, to try to get a human being in Instagram or Facebook to help me save my account because I was unable to recover it myself.
Hiring a hacker didn’t feel right to me, I’m a gut feeling person and it didn’t sit right. So I didn’t hire him. Instead, I started shouting from the rooftops. I got onto Today FM, iRadio, was featured on Rollercoaster.ie, Creators.ie and Mumsnet.
I was letting people know to turn on two-factor login and also trying to get any help that I could. The feedback I got back was that if I got a human in Facebook, I’d have a good chance of saving my account. Although I did get messages from people who couldn’t recover even after talking to a Facebook human. But I was hopeful that a human would be able to recover my account.
After a lot of searching and exposure to my situation, I never found a way to get an Insta human. But I did get a Facebook one. If you have a Facebook page that you have a card or Paypal linked to, then you can get help under Facebook Ad Manager. After some clicking around, a “need more help” section is at the bottom where you can email someone. I did that, I poured my heart out, and shared everything only to get a useless reply that was so infuriating, I think Ane at Facebook didn’t even read what had I written.
So I went into need more help again to try to get the chat option that a friend blogger, Franca told me about. Most of the time, it says not available so it took about 3 days of hitting refresh then I finally got to chat on messenger with a Facebook human named Edmund. I told him the whole story, and sent screenshots and every bit of evidence I had as to what happened.
Edmund emailed me every few days for about 3 weeks. He kept asking me for the original email which I gave him. I had the same email on the account for nearly 5 years. After repeatedly asking me the same few questions he emailed me a few days ago letting me know that he basically couldn’t find my account, that it is actually deleted. And gone for good.
He said he apologizes for any inconvenience caused – which has been the famous line over the past month. And that as they say is that. The glimmer of hope that a human somewhere could rescue my account is now officially gone.
What to do if you get hacked
Obviously I don’t have the magic answer to save your account, because I have not been able to recover my account. But it took me days to figure out what to do and time is of the essence. So here is my advice to you or a friend who gets hacked.
- Go onto Facebook Ad Manager straight away and email a human and hit refresh until you get a human to chat with, and report the problem.
- I didn’t go the ethical hacker route but if your Insta is a big earner for you it might be worth considering it early on before your account is permanently deleted. If you want more details you can message me. I passed his info onto an Irish influencer since losing my account, who used him to successfully recover her hacked Insta.
- If you create a new Instagram account do not use the same email as before and don’t create it via your Facebook. I created a new account using Facebook and I think I made my situation worse because it had the same email as the old one. This is just a guess on my part but I just never thought of it when creating my new page.
- Disconnect payment from your Facebook because some hackers don’t delete pages, they run ads using your account – you can do that under Ad Manager or under PayPal settings if that’s what you use.
- Change your passwords everywhere, especially on Facebook, the email account associated with Facebook and anywhere else you might have been using the same password.
- TURN ON TWO FACTOR LOGIN on all of your accounts. Don’t wait for more hacks.
How to Prevent Getting Hacked
Prevention is key – it really and truly is your best option.
This is really important — it does not matter if your accounts are public, private, for business, for pleasure, large or small followings….hackers are after them all. I get messages daily from all types of accounts who have been hacked.
There are different scams depending on the type of account. But most of them end with the account being taken and the hacker emailing threatening to delete or show DM’s if the person doesn’t pay them.
So if you value your account being your account, then take these important steps right now.
- Turn on 2-factor login on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & Gmail. It only takes a few minutes. You can set them to text you and / or install a Google Authenticator App on your phone. IF a hacker somehow gets your password, they won’t get in without the special code you get sent on your phone. So this is truly the biggest and most important defense against being hacked!
- Hover over emai links. When you place your cursor over a link, the true link appears in the bottom left of your screen. If I had done that, I would have seen that the real link wasn’t instagram.com but rather a big jumble of nonsense code and I wouldn’t have clicked it.
- Pick a STRONG password with crazy missed up symbols & caps and make it unique – don’t use them on other sites.
- Back up your Instagram data under Instagram settings.
- Save back up codes for two factor under Instagram settings.
I have screenshots for these steps under Insta Security highlight on my new Instagram page.
I must say that although I was working on acceptance, it was difficult realization to take that my account was really and truly 100% definitely gone. There was a little glimmer of hope that a human in Facebook could save me. And that glimmer was gone. What a thing to sink in.
What I have learned is the following:
- Hacking is rampant on Insta & Facebook – for all types of accounts, big, small, business and private.
- There is no way to get a human at Instagram.
- Getting a human at Facebook doesn’t necessarily save your account (and I have heard similar stories from many other people).
- The way Insta and Facebook are set up has left it a playground for hackers and blackmailers.
- The auto system in place to “recover hacked accounts” is actually a load of rubbish. I have very little programming knowledge but I know that if Facebook made one simple change then hacking wouldn’t be an issue anymore. The only person who would change a username, password, email and then DELETE an account, all in the space of two minutes is….a hacker. No normal account user would do that kind of madness. So why not prevent someone from deleting an account for one week after updating a username or email address. Then the Insta auto-recovery system would work….it seems so obvious that I wonder why that’s not in place.
- Paying Facebook to promote your content does not mean you will get any better service or that they will save your account. Or that they will care what has happened to you. During my time in Ad Manager, I saw that I have spent nearly 1k euros to Facebook on ads over the past five years. It was a fiver here, a tener there, and it has added up…despite that, I am still unable to reclaim my account.
Please Support & Join in with #HackMeNot
I am a full-time mom, I work from a desk in the corner of my kitchen. I am the definition of a small business. My Instagram was an integral part of my income and my online presence. This huge huge huge hit to take. I am asking that you please give my new Instagram page a follow and share my story in the hopes of preventing others from being hacked and also to help me rebuild five years of content and connections I have lost.
November 7th 2019 is a day to raise awareness on social media security. The hashtag you can use is #HackMeNot like forget me not. I hope you will get involved by sharing security ideas and tag me, on your social media networks. We need to stick together and inform each other in order to stay safe and keep our accounts as our own. You can share ANY DAY, not just on the 7th, I’d really appreciate if you could share.
Thank you to everyone who has stood by me and is sharing my story. I truly appreciate it. You can save this graphic and share it on your socials on any day, it doesn’t have to be on the 7th. What has helped the most is people just speaking about it – thanks in advance to everyone who shares.