Yesterday my Instagram got hacked and held for ransom. (Crazy, right?) Literally sounds like a sci-fi movie starring Lindsay Lohan. I’ve been meaning write about property protection in the age of digital media for a while now, so I think now’s the time.
Digital media is a beautiful thing. It’s allowed us to connect with people from all over the world – both loved ones and people we would never have met otherwise. It’s allowed entrepreneurial free spirits like myself to create entire digital businesses and free ourselves from the 9-5.
But don’t let your fave digital creators (I HATE the word influencer) fool you – it’s a LOT of work building an audience, creating meaningful and educational content, spreading a message, growing a supportive community, etc. (at least if you’re doing it right… IMHO). It’s not all about brunch and YSL bags. TRUST me on this.
There’s no protection for digital property
All the work is worth it. The problem is, there’s essentially NO protection for our digital property, which we spend loads of time and energy creating. It’s stolen constantly, and it can downright disappear in an instant. Personally, I’ve had my logo and branding ripped off by a major brand (which resulted in expensive litigation), my content stolen, my identity stolen, and basically everything else under the sun. It’s SO easy. All someone has to do is download one of my images or copy/paste my words and use it on their own page. Unless one of you guys flag it, I usually have no idea.
It’s not lost on me that the digital and social media space is predominantly female. I can’t help but wonder if digital content protection would be taken more seriously if more males’ careers depended on it. BUT I DIGRESS.
Media companies: please do more to protect digital content creators
Here’s what really gets my goat, as my mom would say. All of these digital media companies (like Facebook) are creating these MECCAS (like Instagram), where they’re encouraging businesses to live and grow and even make a living off of their platform.
But then… when something goes wrong… they leave us high and dry.
Yesterday I got several emails from a dude named “PunPam,” who hacked my IG and threatened to delete and sell my account if I didn’t pay him. I know it’s just an IG account and part of me feels silly, but this is also my BABY and a big part of my business. It was terrifying.
Instagram’s Help Center was useless (I can’t change my password when my email and phone are no longer associated with the account). There’s absolutely no way to contact them. I SCOURED the Internet and read many, many disheartening stories from people and businesses whose accounts got hacked and were never seen again. So then (lol)… I called the Santa Monica police (L O L). They, not surprisingly, laughed in my face.
WHAT’S A GAL TO DO?
Well, luckily, I have all of you.
After posting this blog post about the hack, my friends (online and IRL) pooled all of their connections (you’re a well-connected bunch!) Altogether I prob had around 50+ internal “friends and family” reports at FB/Instagram. HAIIIIIII pay attention to me PLZ! It worked. Instagram resolved the issue within 24hrs. (Thank you!)
That said, I never heard from Instagram. Not one word. I don’t know how they fixed it. I don’t know who hacked my account. I don’t know why. Was this a random attack? Was I targeted specifically? (FYI, PunPam still won’t stop emailing me.)
The BIGGER question is… is Instagram doing ANYTHING to find and take proper action against PunPam? If they don’t, who is this loser going to target next? As far as I’m concerned he’s in the same shithead fraternity as Trump and Harvey Weinstein.
Facebook is a huge company and they need to have recourse to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else
I mean, this was a hard week for me. It was supposed to be my wedding, which sent me into a depressive spiral this week, and Mercury is in fucking retrograde so clearly everything’s going wrong and my life is pretty much a soap opera rn. But actually, I got my IG account back pretty quickly and I feel like the LUCKY ONE. Based on all the research I’ve done and horror stories I’ve heard, many people aren’t so lucky. They spend YEARS building their brand and audience and business and then… POOF. It’s gone. No one to contact. No one to help. Tough titties.
So I’m asking all digital media companies, Instagram included (and especially), PLEASE create some kind of emergency backup technology and recourse. And then, take ACTION against attackers and treat it like what it is: business theft. Make sure they don’t do it to ANYONE else. (Unless it’s Trump then I don’t rly care tbh – go use your hacking skillz for good not evil.)
Ok, well now I’m worried I scared you all shitless, so here are three things you can do to protect your account.
4 things you can do to protect your instagram from hackers:
Change your passwords. Regularly.
Use a different password for every application. SERIOUSLY. You can use a little code or mnemonic device to keep track of how you slightly adjust passwords for diff apps.
If you have an Instagram business account, don’t use the same email for contact as you do for login.
Use 2-factor authentification!!! (I believe this was my downfall.)
Once again, this B/B community has BLOWN ME AWAY. Without all of you, I honestly don’t know if my baby would have ever been recovered. Thank you, thank you, a million times, thank you. I LOVE YOU ALL!!