So you think it can’t happen to you? Well, it can. Mid-July we lost access to our Instagram account. Someone was able to log in and reset our recovery email to their email address. No warning. Our email login no longer existed. None of my coworkers or myself could access our Instagram account nor reset the password.
First, hours of frustration. We thought we were doing it wrong and made many attempts to login and several attempts to reset our password. Then disbelief: Why on earth would someone hack an Instagram account? Then shock: Seriously, have we been hacked? Then panic: What else will be affected? Then scrabble: What else do we need to change? Answer: 22 passwords for personal, business and festival accounts, including social media, websites, email, banking, Apple and Google. Then time wasted googling possible solutions. We heard tales of accounts being held for ransom at $125 to buy back their account. Over the course of three weeks, we monitored our Instagram account for any suspicious activity. No one contacted us. We’re not willing to pay anyway. There is no sense adding to the coffers or success rates of a thief.
Lesson learned. Everyone one should change to two-factor authentication. Click here to read all about it Watch your email closely. If you ever get that warning message “Changes have been made to your account… and it was not you”… then take action immediately.
Seven character passwords are too easy to hack so pick long passwords. Do not duplicate passwords for different accounts. Mix in some numbers. It can get so confusing. A designer friend suggested writing a short sentence and changing the numbers at the end as codes for each account. An artist suggested authors or book titles. Use whatever works for you.
What to do if it happens to you
We filled out all the login-in help forms on Instagram and Facebook. We were very thorough and listed all our accounts, emails and link to our website as proof we were the real Paint Spot. We waited three weeks without response. Instagram is a free app owned by Facebook and their tech support runs a bit behind.
Out With the Old?
We thought we had to let go of @thepaintspot and say good-bye to years of history, video tutorials and other cool stuff. I am still unsure whether to recommend our followers opt out of a compromised account. Is it possible that a simple ‘unfollow’ will identify you as an active account? If anyone one knows the answer, please let us know.
In With the New?
Say hello to an even better Instagram username @paintspot.ca We are grateful it was still available and matches our website. We will rebuild our following back to 3,000+ in a slow, authentic approach. We carefully gather and nurture relationships. We never pay for followers, nor boost posts to attract traffic.
More good news. Within 12 hours, our new account had over 500 follows. Real friends. Thank you!
Surprise We’re back!!
Then came an email from Facebook. I thought it was a joke because it was so simple and the email was weird. I googled it and found others asking the same questions too.
It took several emails back and forth with screen shots of the hackers email on our account. Then I was asked to enter a completely new email never used in social media before. (My apologies to our accounting department for all the confirmation emails).
Then voila! We are back in!
What the heck? So, now we have two Instagram accounts. Good thing we are creatives and our industry is visual so we have enough content for both. Over the next several weeks you will start to see the two accounts take different directions, with two distinct themes. Follow both or just the one that suits you. It is likely both accounts will follow, like and comment on your posts too.
@thepaintspot is our local personality. It will have cool events, staff picks and peeks behind the scenes. Most of our staff will be posting to this one. If you love @theflowbot, @zheliskoart, @shellybanks3368 and @mishovel this is the account for you! It features our painted logo. This avatar image will soon be the sign on our building too.
@paintspot.ca is focused on our online business. It will focus on pretty art supplies, sales, and product launches, with a clean, sleek look.