3 things I learned while being hacked on Instagram
Yup. It happened to me. What I thought was impossible - is possible.
So here’s what happen...
Last Tuesday, I was doing my round of scrolling on Instagram and I watched two of my fellow bloggers shared that one of them was hacked. As I watched the stories, I was in shock because I had never known anyone close to me to be “hacked.” I truly thought it was something that only happened to celebrities. 5 minutes later as I close the app and open it back up, I received the Instagram notification saying I was logged out of my account and I needed to sign back in. I was confused. WTF?
I immediately check my email for any sort of emails from IG and to my surprise I received two - one that stated my username was changed and another stating my email was changed. My heart DROPPED. I felt like I was in a sick episode of black mirror. How could I had just been reading a fellow blogger was hacked and it just happened to me?
A few moments later, the hackers email me to my blog email letting me know that they hacked me and if I wanted my account back I needed to respond. I didn’t respond and continued to get emails letting me know that my account would be permanently deleted urging me to respond asap. So out of curiosity, I asked how could I get my account back and they let me know that account recovery was $383.
I immediately ran home. I felt completely violated. I felt scared. I changed my passwords to every login i’ve ever created - twitter, emails, credit cards, etc. I kept thinking what else could just simply be invaded on. I began going into a deep research hole and finding that hundreds of others have been hacked by these specific hackers and have received the same blackmailing emails. I wasn’t the first and definitely not the last.
I began reaching out to Instagram, Facebook and even directly reaching out to staff. Days went by and I heard from no one. I sent wave of emails and reports every single day and not one response back!! I couldn't believe the lack of support I received from Instagram. The waiting game drove me crazy.
On Friday, a good friend of mine texted me expressing her disappointment and told me she could reach out to someone she knows who works at Facebook HQ. Her contact said he would see what he could do but it would take days before i'm reinstated. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best but as the days went by, I slowly began to let it go and left it in God's hands.
I truly felt defeated. Being hacked right before NYFW, having to extend deadlines, reaching out to brands to let them know I was hacked - it killed me. I had mentally accepted the fact that I wouldn't retrieve my account for weeks or not at all. It was hard not to think about all my hard work over the years being permanently deleted and having to grow my community again. I was uneasy, nervous, and definitely on edge.
I did eventually receive a response back from Instagram support but they were no help. There was a back and forth of emails only to not get a response back at all. Truly disappointed in the company.
Yesterday - 6 days later since being hacked - my mom realizes my account is back and I received an email from Instagram stating they detected suspicious activity and provided me with a link to create a new password. I WAS BACK UP AND RUNNING!
Thanks to my friend who went out of her way to help me, I got my account back much sooner than I anticipated. Thank god for amazing friends!
So here's a few things this entire experience taught me:
NOTHING IS PRIVATE OR SAFE ON THE INTERNET
I knew this. But now I KNOW THIS. You hear these stories but when it happens to you or to someone you know - it’s a totally different reality. If hackers could take down an Instagram account from another country, there’s no telling what else they could do. I learned how much of our personal information we share on these devices and platforms daily. Nothing and no one is safe and all we can do is watch what we share and protect ourselves as much as we can. Some tips I want to share to protect your personal information are to change your passwords often, never share your login information with anyone, don't click suspicious links you receive in your email, and turn on two-factor authentication.. NOW!
I LOVE WHAT I DO AND MY BRAND MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME
Like the saying, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone - it’s true. Days without posting and days without engaging with my followers really hit me. As much as I enjoyed the days of unplugging and being disconnected, I also missed it so much. In those days I realized how much I love the community I created. The thought of having to start over and grow my audience killed me. I've worked really hard and so much work goes into what you see on these platforms. My love and care for it was obvious throughout this time.
DISCONNECTING FROM SOCIAL MEDIA IS CRUCIAL
I craved all summer to have a few days off of social media. I wanted a weekend to unplug and recharge after the madness of constantly being on the go. I had planned for Labor Day weekend to be that weekend and boy did the universe have a plot twist for me. Although, the disconnect was forced - I wouldn't have had it any other way. It felt amazing. I felt liberated. It was a much needed hiatus that forced me to rest, think, and live without sharing. I'm grateful for it no matter how tough it was.
All in all, the week was tough but I always look for the lessons and messages in everything I grow through. I'm just beyond grateful to be back and motivated than ever to continue growing with my online community behind me.