If you are here because your Instagram was hacked, I’ve been there. My Instagram was hacked, and I lost everything in an instant. Thankfully I was able to get my account back, but I learned a lot through this experience.
In this post, I’m sharing my story of when my Instagram was hacked, how I got it back, and what I’ve learned through this experience.
PART 1: MY INSTAGRAM IS GONE! 3 YEARS OF HARD WORK WAS STOLEN FROM ME!
If you follow me on Instagram you might have heard the news, yep, I GOT HACKED! This happened a little while ago now, but it is still something that happens to people every day.
And while it’s scary when you hear it happen to others, it’s terrifying when it actually happens to you! Before I give you the complete play by play, I personally just want to say a huge THANK YOU! The second it all went down I realized how silly I’ve been to leave all my eggs in one basket (Instagram being the basket).
In a split second, I lost all communication with my audience, and I’m not ready to end our friendship just yet. I’m so thankful to have the immense support of this audience and feel lucky to share my story and travels with you. I’m glad you’re here!
Now… I hope you’re sitting down because…
Now it’s not what you’re probably thinking. I didn’t get hacked like in the movies. No black screen with green writing. No clown face laughing at me. Instead, a simple email. Which is still equally upsetting, just slightly less dramatic.
So here’s how it all went down…
On August 28, 2019, I got an email from a woman claiming to represent a brand I have worked with in the past. I was excited to be working with the brand again but apprehensive at the same time because something didn’t feel right. She had no email signature, and I noticed it was being sent from a gmail account.
Already all my senses were firing off alarms. Because I’ve worked with the brand before, I knew my contact there had a direct brand email and they didn’t deal with an agency.
So who the hell is this woman?
I held my breath waiting anxiously for her reply. Meanwhile, I immediately contacted the brand. I wanted to confirm if they still did their PR in house and not through an agency.
On August 30, 2019, ignoring my ask of what agency she represents and why she’s writing to me from a personal account, she sent me a link to the brand’s Instagram page. It wasn’t a hyperlink, it was a link that asked me to sign into Instagram (I hope your alarms are going off because this is SKETCHY!)
WTFFF!!! Ok Lisa, don’t panic. I try logging in on my desktop… nothing. So I start messaging some friends asking them to check my page. That’s when it all became real.
User not found!!?? Ok, now I’m panicking!! … That’s when I got the email that threatened to ruin all my hard work.
IMAGINE, 3 YEARS OF WORK DOWN THE RAIN! 327,000 FOLLOWERS GONE IN A SPLIT SECOND.
At this point, Instagram had become a full-time job, my livelihood, and where I made the bulk of my income. So what would you do if someone threatened the business you worked so hard to build?
THERE WAS NO WAY IN HELL THIS HACKER WAS GETTING HIS HANDS ON MY ACCOUNT!
You start to replay every step in your mind. I quickly realized I’ve been basing my business around a single platform that I don’t even own!!! Immediately I felt so stupid. How foolish of me!
At that moment everything became clear to me. There is only one reliable way to all stay connected: MY EMAIL LIST! (You can also sign up HERE instead to get my FREE preset and HERE to get my FREE Media Kit!))
If I lost my entire Instagram, my only sure communication with you would be my mailing list! So if you want to be safe, be sure to follow me on all platforms! Instagram | Youtube | Facebook | Pinterest (shameless plug but this is my blog ok!)
HERE’S THE EMAIL I GOT
While there was no ransom attached to the initial message. Hearing the words cleared of all photos & sell your account was scary AF! I had heard stories of friends having to pay hundreds of dollars just to regain access to their own accounts.
At this point, my trust was at an all-time low. Wouldn’t yours be? So where do you look for help? Instagram’s forum provided nothing useful, no solution, no email to get in touch with. A friend of mine referred me to someone who’s helped get other accounts back (for a pretty penny of course).
I never want anyone to feel the same fear I had. And because I have this platform I can’t just sit back. I need to tell you:
PART 2: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BRAND AND BUSINESS FROM BEING HACKED ON INSTAGRAM
Just imagine for a second waking up one morning and realizing your business has totally disappeared, along with all your followers/ customers. Now it might not be a huge deal to some of you, in fact, you’re probably thinking #firstworldproblems. But if you’re a blogger, influencer, creator or business owner who uses social media on the daily as part of your business, then you probably feel like this:
Sadly, getting hacked on social media, particularly Instagram, has become increasingly more common in the last year. The day after it all happened and I shared my story on Instagram, I had so many of you reach out sharing how you experienced being hacked first hand. Some of you were able to recover your account but some lost it forever. This blog post is a shout-out to all of you.
Let’s make sure this never happens to anyone else! It’s scary how many people (myself included) put all their trust and build an entire business on a single platform THAT THEY DON’T EVEN OWN!
I’ll admit when I decided to quit my job and put all my energy into the “influencer world”, I too put all my eggs into the Instagram basket. But early on I got some crucial advice to never rely on a 3rd party to reach your followers.
That’s why 2 years ago I launched my blog, started building my mailing list, and expanded on other platforms. This year I shared my tips for growing your own blog and email list as well as growing your Instagram community in a 4 part series.
I recently switched my mailing list over to a new platform which I am loving. The templates are so much more aesthetically pleasing and far more on brand, so much so that those on my newsletter have noticed the positive improvements. Feedback has been amazing.
If you’re interested in trying Flodesk for yourself, use this link for 50% off. It also locks you in for life at that price! I was paying $500+ USD/month for my last provider, but now I’m paying $18/month no matter how large my list gets!
PART 3: HOW TO AVOID GETTING HACKED ON INSTAGRAM (WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING FOR YOUR BRAND AND BUSINESS)
The first thing you can do to protect your account is make sure you have two-factor authentication turned on. If you haven’t done this, go and do it RIGHT NOW.
- Go to the three lines in the top right corner of your profile page
- Click on your settings (at the bottom of your screen)
- Click on two-factor authentication under security
- Make sure to turn two-factor authentication ON
You’ll then get a security code sent to your phone. And voila! You’re now twice as secure!
Next up, make sure you change your password regularly. I’m definitely guilty of not doing this. I’m also guilty of using 1 password for all accounts.. HUGE MISTAKE, HUGE!!
So if you’re like me and you haven’t updated your password in a while, or you have the same password for multiple accounts… Pause, go change your password and come back to me.
Make sure to choose a strong password. It’s known that one of the most common ways that hackers break into accounts is by guessing or by using old passwords that have been compromised.
To avoid this, update your Instagram password regularly — at least once or twice a year according to most experts.
Most sites recommend your password consists of at least six letters, numbers, and punctuation marks but most security experts suggest a minimum password length of 8 characters. I was guilty of not doing this or using common words rather than code. Not anymore!
Lastly, I’ve repeated myself a few times in this email in hopes that something sinks in. DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF TO JUST ONE PLATFORM. DON’T RELY ON SOMETHING YOU DON’T OWN!
I was fortunate enough to have a friend who’s partner worked for Facebook and helped push my case through the proper channels. And while I don’t have a direct contact, if this happens to you, I’d recommend reaching out to Facebook or try going through the Facebook ad platforms. I’ve heard some people have had luck there.
Last year Instagram announced the rollout of their New Account Recovery Process. According to an Instagram spokesperson, the first change “will make it easier for you to sign in and reclaim your account if it has been hacked.” – First reported by Motherboard
Here’s how it works:
If you can’t access your Instagram account because the password was changed by a hacker, you can tap the “My login info isn’t working” button. Instagram then asks you to enter the email address or phone number linked to your account or the one you used when you signed up for your Instagram account.
Once you’ve done that, you get a six-digit code sent to you that will allow you to regain access to your account. (This feature was not yet available when I was hacked.)
If I wasn’t as lucky and I did lose my Instagram, I’d still have my mailing list and blog. These are things I own! These two platforms are my one true bet I can always stay connected with you, my audience.
So please, let’s never loose touch! I’m not ready to give up on us just yet.
I hope this blog post has helped open your eyes to the importance of protecting yourself, your brand, and your business when it comes to social media.
You wouldn’t put all your trust in a random stranger, so why put your trust in just one platform. If you are wanting to learn more about growing your blog and Instagram, don’t miss my 4 part series:
- How to Work with Brands + FREE Media Kit Template
- How to Push Your Creative Boundaries + Write Great Captions
- How to Build Your Instagram Community
- How to Grow Your Blog & Email List
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