Top Tips: How to NOT get Hacked
Christmas Eve this year started like no other - and I mean that not in a good way. Along with me, many other bloggers opened an e-mail from Russian hackers and we were led down a path which resulted in us losing our accounts.
Now while this story may have a happy ending, it doesn’t end the same for everyone. I want to raise awareness to the recent uproar in Russian hacking and help prevent you getting all your hard work taken away from you.
My first thoughts…
Why did I open the email? Why didn’t I read it closer? I should’ve opened it on my phone. All these thoughts went through my head but the truth is, it was Christmas Eve I was away with family and I wasn’t paying full attention to what was going on. It was a silly mistake on my behalf but if I had taken a few more precautions while reading the email along with protecting my Instagram in the first place then I could’ve possibly avoided it.
What to do next?
After bursting into tears and trying to log into Instagram on every different avenue I had to hand I received an email from Russian hackers demanding I pay them 300 bitcoins or they would permanently delete everything. My heart sunk. I was overwhelmed that this had actually happened to me. I don’t have millions of followers, I am usually so safe with online and my passwords yet I’m in this position?
For a split second, I thought, what if I do pay them? They might give it back? They might not even care about it and just want some money? NO! NEVER PAY THEM! I tried to convince myself for a second that these people might give it back but the reality is there people DO NOT CARE. They’re not trustworthy people, they’ve stole your account?!!!! The truth is all they want is more money and more money and they would continue to demand more of you as they hold the leverage.
Do not feed into the hacking industry and refuse to pay. Even if it means losing your account for good. Which is what I thought had happened
How did they hack me?
I received a collaboration e-mail early in the day and although I usually leave them unread till I get my computer and go through them one by one I had some time while I waited for everyone to get up so I thought I would check them out. The account in question was @graymattersnyc which I checked out and had 35k. I wanted to learn more about the collab so I clicked the link in the email.
The problem to start is opening information on your phone. Later when I tried the link via a computer it came up with warning signs saying it was suspicious and when I hovered over it showed a completely different URL in the bottom corner.
I typed my details into the link as it looked like it was asking me to log into Instagram and a couple of days before I had had a new phone so I wasn’t logged in on Safari. This however was the trap, and just like that a year of hard work, endless hours a day - vanished!
Does Instagram help?
Hell to the no!!!! They are useless, I’m sorry this isn’t the answer that you want but it’s the truth. I sent several help requests as stated on their forums but it led me to a guy named Jeremy. Jeremy my friends, is a bot, and a pretty useless one.
After getting an automated email asking for some details and then another asking for a photo of me along with a number that they provided I received a recovery email and man was I excited, well until I realised that was for a different account I own. Well fab, thanks for helping me find the one I already have.
After going through this process a good seven times the bot finally realised what account I was talking about and sent me that daunting response I had been ever so wishing wouldn’t come - my account had been permanently deleted!
How I got my Instagram back?
After an emotional rollercoaster over Christmas I decided that I wouldn’t let this be the end. I started up a new account and was determined to start again, make an account that was bigger and better than the last and continue working hard for what I love.
I reached out to several friends I had made through Instagram explaining what happened and that this was now my account. I was overwhelmed with joy at the support I received and was shocked at how many other people it had happened to on the same day. Then, @lolapatridge and @all-about-rosalilla reached out to me to say that instagrammers @flipflopwanderers_ had also been hacked but that they’d got their account back!
My mind filled with positivity, although I didn’t want to get carried away I couldn’t help the thought of having my account back. They pointed me in the direction of a Colombian man called Juan Diego J Pelaez @juanr325. After reading the Flip Flop Wanderers story and speaking to this guy I decided that he seemed trustworthy and I wanted him to help me!
He sent me this YouTube video and explained to me how everything worked and then he talked me through step by step how I was going to get the account back.
What did he do?
He guided me through the steps once again - filling out the forms, sending the photos with my face and information on but from there, he dealt with the rest. Juan told me that he could see the account was not deleted it was just hidden away. This was the best news. He then guided Instagram through the process (with some sort of magic) and low and behold at 2am I wake up to a message from Juan saying he has got my account back.
I thought this can’t actually be true right? This is a joke. i logged on and there it was - every photo, like, comment, follower. Every story and saved image. Every message I had sent. All there.
Instagram support would have sent the same old email in response if Juan hadn’t pointed them in the right direction to recover my account. The best thing is this guy restored my belief in kindness. It may have briefly faded for a day or two but this guy genuinely does this out of the kindess of his heart and expects nothing back! The truth is Juan is basically a modern day hero.
How to prevent yourself getting hacked?
There are a few preventative steps you can take from getting yourself hacked.
Make sure you turn on ‘Two-factor authentication’ in your Instagram account
Make sure your password contains letters, numbers, different cases and signs to make it almost impossible to crack.
Be aware of dodgy emails and links
Always check the email looks legit - no typos etc
Always check the links! You can hover over the link to see if it matches in the below bar and if it doesn’t IGNORE!
Even if the link checks out - NEVER CLICK LINKS in an email. Open up a search engine and retype the link.
The link should refer to an URL starting with HTTPS:// The S means that it is safe, it has SSL, and there will be a green lock in front of the URL in the browser.
Open links on emails - your gmail should appear with a warning sign if the link is dodgy. Opening on your phone skips this phase and allows you to open dodgy links.
Make sure you also have ‘Two-factor authentication’ on your emails.
Read the email carefully - if there are typos, it doesn’t sound professional etc than the likely hood is its not!
Thank you everyone who supported me and tried their best to guide me in the right direction. So many messages sending love and what ever information they had to help me get the best possible result!