In the blink of an eye, Luminita @thebeautifullifeofglamour went from having 64k followers to nil because a hacker hijacked her account.
It’s every influencer’s nightmare. Your carefully curated feed and loyal following taken from you.
You feel sure that you’ll never happen to you and yet anyone can find themselves the target of a hacker. Issues of privacy and data protection are a topic of contention and anxiety in the modern world. In light of this, we speak to Vamp influencer Luminita about her harrowing experience. We hear how she recovered from the blackmailing hacker attack and her top tips on protecting your Instagram account against hackers.
How many years had you been working on your account before it was hacked?
I have started my IG account about three years ago as a hobby. Before I knew it I had 64k followers and it’d turned into a full time job.
How were you hacked?
I received a collaboration proposal email, which looked just like any other email of that kind. I receive so many similar emails on a daily basis.
We exchanged several emails with details about my rate per post, number of posts and so on. But when I clicked on the link where I was supposed to see a sample of the product they wanted me to promote, my account was hacked.
By the time I tried to change the password it was too late. She’d already changed the e-mail address on my Instagram account so I was unable to recover it.
The e-mail address the hacker used was a Russian one (.ru). I’d previously done many collaborations with legitimate Russian companies where everything worked out well so thought nothing of it. However, it was only later on that I found out from other influencers who had their accounts hijacked that most of hackers use Russian e-mail addresses.
What did the hacker do while your account was hacked?
The hacker sent me an email asking for money.
I refused to pay in the beginning as I was hoping that the Instagram support team would be able to help me. I waited four days for Instagram to reply, however no luck.
In the meantime the hacker kept sending me e-mails with deadlines for the payment, threatening that she would delete my profile.
Through a contact who works for Facebook I found out that all the details of my account were changed. This meant that the hacker had full control. I decided to pay her, knowing in my heart of hearts that the possibility of getting my account back was low. Considering all the years of hard work creating building my profile, I was willing to risk it.
After I completed the payment (she asked for Bitcoins) she said she would reactivate my account in ten minutes, which never happened.
A couple of other emails followed where she said she needed more time to work on it. After which I never heard from her again.
How did you feel while your account was hacked?
I just could’t believe it. You hear everyday of accounts being hacked but when it happens to you it really hits you.
In the beginning I tried to be positive that I would get it back one way or another. As the days passed by, however, I was starting to accept the idea that it might not happen. I did everything I could to recover my data though.
To lose your hard work of a few years just in a blink of an eye is not very easy to cope with. However I tried to be optimistic that I would be able to grow an account again.
I decided to do a digital detox for a couple of weeks and then I started my new Instagram personal blog.
How have you rebuilt your personal brand since this happened?
I was surprised by the support I received from so many influencer friends and brands I collaborated with.
Through their shout outs and reposts I managed to reach out to so many of my followers. The news spread very quickly.
I am lucky to have the most amazing followers, many of whom reached out once they were not able to see my pictures on their Instagram feed.
When my account was hacked my username was immediately changed. This at least allowed me to use it on my new profile, as I bought the domain with the same name. Having the same username made it easier for my new profile to be found.
What advice would you give to other influencers to prevent this from happening to them?
To start with, make sure you have the Instagram two-factor authentication on (Privacy and Security options). Change your password regularly.
Always double check any e-mails you receive in regards to possible collaborations. Especially any links which come through.
I have set up a different account through which I am pre-viewing all the links at the moment. If you find that your account has been compromised, a back-up comes in handy!
I was using an app where most of my pictures were saved in chronological order. This helped me a lot as I was able to upload them easier to my new profile.