This is How Easily Your Instagram Could Be Hacked (and How to Avoid Losing It in the First Place)

This is How Easily Your Instagram Could Be Hacked (and How to Avoid Losing It in the First Place) | Not Dressed As Lamb (image: Ashley Cramp)

Imagine waking up one morning and finding that your Instagram account has been hacked and it’s gone. As in TOTALLY DISAPPEARED, along with all your followers.

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t rely on Instagram for whatever reason and you still have the photos on your phone, then you might think it’s not that big a deal and just an annoyance.

If you’re a blogger/Instagrammer/influencer/content creator/business owner who relies on Instagram as part of (or all of) your business or brand, then this scenario has probably sent a chill down your spine.

It’s a very real problem that can happen to anyone – and DOES happen (as I’m about to describe in detail). And if you’re that someone who relies heavily on Instagram as part of your business or profession, then there are steps you can take to prevent this happening in the first place, and even when it does, there are ways to make it not the worst thing in the world.

Ask yourself, Is my whole business and/or earning potential based around Instagram?

If the answer is YES, then you’ve put yourself in a very dangerous position. If the unthinkable were to happen (your account gets hacked and you lose ALL your followers and posts), how would you get all those followers back? How would you earn money from brand collaborations if you suddenly had zero following and no other means of contacting the people that follow you? How would you keep customers and fans updated about what’s going on with your business, what new products you have, and when you have things on special offer?

(Image credit: Ashley Cramp, with permission)

 

Putting all your Instagram eggs in one basket

It’s frightening how many people are putting all their trust in (and basing their entire business model around) one single social media platform. THAT THEY DON’T OWN. I’ve written before about how many bloggers are abandoning their blogs for social media because, well, they’re doing so well there. (I’m sure I’d consider it too if I had 100k+ followers and could charge thousands per Instagram post.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for them (assuming they’ve earned it organically of course and not bought followers and engagement…) but in reality it’s a VERY foolish thing to do.

Using just one [social media] platform – one that you don’t own and where you have absolutely no rights if they were to shut down or you lose your account – is CRAZY.

As I wrote in that post, you’re relying on a third party to reach your followers. There’s only ONE reliable way to stay connected to your readers, and that’s via a mailing list. More on that in a minute; firstly, how does someone “lose” their entire Instagram account?

 

Case study: How Ashley lost her whole Instagram account

Between Christmas and New Year, fashion and lifestyle blogger Ashley Cramp (formerly blogging as Lazy Daisy Jones) was, like many of us, on a break from all online activities. One day over the festive period her son told her that a strange picture of two men dancing had been posted to her Instagram and Facebook (her accounts are linked so you can post automatically from one to another). Of course she’d not posted this picture herself.

Imagine this: She then realised she couldn’t log into either account on her phone or laptop. (I’d be screaming like a banshee at this point if this had happened to me.)

However, she could log into Instagram on her Mac, so she temporarily disabled the account and contacted Instagram. Of course they took ages to get back to her, but when they did they said her account had been “compromised” as well as any accounts linked to it. She was told she needed to change all her passwords.

So she could temporarily disable all of her social accounts she went to change her passwords immediately, and then realised she could no longer get into Instagram AT ALL. To her horror, the following day her Lazy Daisy Jones account – along with 15.8k followers and all her posts – had TOTALLY DISAPPEARED.

Nothing.

Ashley said that Instagram were no help. They eventually got back to her and said there had been a problem with her login credentials. She thought she’d had two-factor authentication enabled, but it turns out she didn’t. Whoever hacked her account had now deleted it – and Instagram couldn’t recover it.

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And that was the end of her Lazy Daisy Jones Instagram account.

 

What Ashley did next

I was so shocked and gutted for Ashley that I wanted to do a little something to help her as well as help those of you who might not have two-factor authentication (what the WHAT is it I hear you ask – I’ll get to that in a minute) turned on, or those of you who are contemplating doing everything on Instagram.

Firstly: Ashley. Nearly 16,000 followers are A LOT of followers to lose, and yes – she’s had to start from absolute zero. She’s gained herself 158 already (at the time of writing, which is WEIRD considering she had 15.8k before…) but I’d LOVE for you to help her out and follow her – I cannot IMAGINE how sick she must have felt when she realised the whole lot had gone. Okay, I know no one died – but Instagram can play a large part in your earning potential as a blogger, so losing Instagram = huge loss of potential earnings.

She told me she’s already lost some brand collaborations.

She was previously blogging as Lazy Daisy Jones but is going by her real name Ashley Cramp – so do please help her out and give her a follow: expect lots of English countryside, vintage pieces and upcycling and crafting, as well as two gorgeous bundles of doggy fluff! She told me she’d thought about rebranding for a while so it’s great that she can see the silver lining, though it must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

Follow Ashley on Instagram here

How to avoid getting hacked on Instagram (and what you SHOULD be doing for your brand and business)

The first thing I did when Ashley told me she’d been hacked was to turn on two-factor authentication. If you haven’t already, go and do this RIGHT NOW:

 

  • Go to the three lines in the top right corner of your Instagram profile page
  • Click on Settings (right at the bottom, it’s easy to miss!)
  • Scroll down to Two-Factor Authentication under Privacy and Security
  • Turn Two-Factor Authentication ON

 

You’ll be asked for a security code (sent to your phone) every time you log in, but it’s not a pain because if you’re like me, you don’t actually log out all that often. (You can also have recovery codes in case your phone’s not available – it’ll be explained once you’re in there.)

That’s it – you’re now twice as secure as you were before.

Secondly, make sure you change your password regularly. I’ll admit to not doing this, so I’m going to take a short break from writing this post to do it now.

= short interval =

Right, mine’s done. I was sent a link to my email address to change the password… good to know you can’t just do it in the app. I also had to add the Instagram security code that was sent to my phone for it to be changed.

Ashley has warned me that a few people told her that, when Instagram does updates, the two-factor authentication can get reset. Therefore it makes sense to check this setting once in a while as well as changing your password. She thinks the reason she was hacked was that some apps (that she no longer used) still had access to her account, so that’s another thing to check and clear out.

 

What you SHOULD be doing for your brand and business

All of this brings me to what I mentioned right at the beginning, that there’s only ONE way to stay connected to your readers: with a mailing list. If you were setting up a new business, would you rely SOLELY on one marketing platform to reach your customers?

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It’s a bit like asking a random stranger to go out in the street and sell your product on your behalf. Sure, he turns up every day and often sells to the same people because they keep going back to him and know where to find him, but what if he just vanished off the face of the earth one morning?

If he disappeared into thin air he’s basically taken all your business and customers along with him. You have NO way of knowing who any of them were, or how to get in touch with them.

However, if YOU went out into the street and asked these people for their email address every time they bought something from you, then BINGO – you’ve got a way of sending them special offers. You’ve got a way of sending them details about new products. If you move to a new selling spot, they’ll know where to find you because you’d emailed them to let them know.

 

So don’t put all your trust in that random stranger who sells your products to your customers.

And likewise – don’t put all your trust into Instagram because THEY hold all the information about your followers.

If you’re thinking of ditching your blog in favour of Instagram, DON’T. (Blogging will continue, I’d put money on it.)

If you’re thinking of using Instagram as the only way of advertising your business, DON’T. (Get yourself a basic website and/or mailing list.)

If you still blog but haven’t given your readers a way of following you by email, DO IT NOW. (Get that mailing list started ASAP.)

 

My Instagram follower numbers may have been stagnant for the past six months or so (I’ve literally only increased my overall following by about 20 in the past three months, and every time I post I lose more than I gain), but my mailing list is growing daily.

There’s a reason why I have a popup sign up form (albeit a little different from the norm) AND splash my “Want to receive free email updates?” message all over every post, and that’s because mailing lists WORK.

If Instagram goes under, or if they do something to ruin it for everyone somehow, or if (god forbid) I get hacked and lose the whole account, then I still have my mailing list and blog to rely on. I own both of those, and I’m so grateful to myself for NOT having put all my Instagram eggs into Mr Zuckerberg’s basket.

 

HAVE YOU HAD ANY EXPERIENCE OF HACKING – OR DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO’S SUFFERED THE SAME FATE AS ASHLEY? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!

Catherine

LIKE THIS POST? YOU MIGHT ALSO WANT TO READ…

Why Abandoning Your Blog for Social Media is a Huge Mistake
9 Tips for Starting a Fashion, Beauty or Lifestyle Blog

 

 

So all that’s left to say is – I’ve shared my thoughts/stories/tuppence-worth this week, now it’s time to share yours… LET’S GET THIS [LINK UP] PARTY STARTED!

 

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54 Comments

  1. January 23, 2019 / 10:05 am

    This was such a helpful post, particularly as I realised that I didn’t have the Two-Factor Authentication setting on either! (I’ve now activated it). I definitely need to work more on my mailing list because I do rely on social media for the majority of my referrals, and I know that that makes me quite vulnerable as I’m dependent on their alogrithms.

    Thank you for sharing this message and I hope your friend can recover her business soon.

    And someone else obviously appreciated the advice here too because they chose to share this post for you at the BlogCrush linky. Hurray! Feel free to pop over and collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge #blogcrush

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:29 pm

      Mailing lists are SO important, aren’t they Lucy?!! Ashley’s account is growing daily I’m pleased to report! And thank you to whoever linked up my post, that was very kind of them and it was very kind of you to come and read and comment! xx

  2. Mary Katherine
    January 22, 2019 / 2:47 am

    What a timely and helpful post, Catherine! I immediately 1) double-checked my two factor authentication, and 2) followed Ashley (looking forward to it). IG is still just fun for me, but I love the way you support everyone who’s earning a living from it. Thanks for all of us!

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:29 pm

      Aww that’s nice of you to say, Mary Katherine – thank you!!

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:30 pm

      Christine THANK YOU for supporting her and for your comment! x

  3. January 21, 2019 / 4:22 am

    So sorry to hear that. That sucks. Some people are so sad. Thanks for hosting and I hope that you have a wonderful week.

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:30 pm

      Thank you Patrick – and yes I agree that it IS sad that they do this. 🙁

  4. January 19, 2019 / 2:28 am

    This is an important reminder, thanks for sharing! (I’ve followed Ashley’s new Instagram account.)

    Back when I was still on blogger, but had been blogging steadily for a few years, I went to log on one morning only to receive the message “this blog does not exist.” WHAT? Years of my work just gone like that? There is no “help desk” for blogger, and g**gle doesn’t make it easy to contact anyone who could help. After three days of stomach-churning panic, I tried logging on again and got a prompt to change my password. And Poof! my blog was back online. It was a valuable lesson, and I made the switch to a self-hosted WordPress site not long after. Yes, yes, yes about owning your content and a mail list. SO important!! Even if social media sites are secure and stable, the ever-changing algorithms mean we can’t count on that traffic.

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:32 pm

      Thank you for following Ashley, Susan! And OH NO about the Blogger thing, that was one of the reasons I migrated to WP too… it’s just too much of a worry and a risk. Luckily I didn’t have a scare like that, but it was probably only a matter of time…!!!!

  5. January 18, 2019 / 11:09 pm

    Ashley has been both lovely and supportive to me since I started in August. I feel terrible for her. Thank you for sharing these tips… I’m going to turn on Two-Factor Authentication now. I had no idea. You are so right in the fact that Instagram is a fickle business

    Alison xxx

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:33 pm

      Ashley IS lovely, Alison, so it doesn’t surprise me that she’s been really supportive! Great news to hear you’ve got the 2FA on now 😀

  6. jodie filogomo
    January 18, 2019 / 4:58 pm

    Gosh, I never thought about that the updates could change the settings. Thanks for that tip, I went straight away and rechecked to make sure my second authentication was on.
    That’s crazy. And I checked in with Ashley and gave her a follow…I can’t even imagine the horror.
    OXOX
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:33 pm

      Yes I wouldn’t have known (or thought about it) either, Jodie – I’m so glad Ashley mentioned that bit! Thanks so much for supporting her x

  7. January 18, 2019 / 1:01 pm

    Thanks for the tips and how wonderful of you to help out a fellow blogger this way. I just love how you always walk your talk Catherine! Very inspiring! Love, Lieske

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:35 pm

      Ashley has been a wonderful IRL and blogging friend Lieske, so it was the least I could do… I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!! I love that our little community can rally round and help someone this way – and everyone’s account gets a bit safer at the same time 😀

  8. January 18, 2019 / 12:45 pm

    Thank you for this info Catherine, poor Ashley, I know how awful it feels, my personal account was hacked a few months ago and it was so difficult to get Instagram to help me. I do now have it back – but it took months and I am still getting login attempts – and I can’t login on the app, I have to go through the browser! It’s been a nightmare and I now have two factor switched on for both personal and blog! Michelle x

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:36 pm

      Oh no that it happened to you too, Michelle!! Thank goodness that you got it back, but WHAT a pain to not be able to use the app…??? !!!

  9. January 18, 2019 / 11:45 am

    What a nightmare for Ashley. I just followed her new IG account. I read something similar happening to another blogger about a year ago and set my two factor authentication at that point. And about a year ago, I had my website hacked and nearly lost every bit of content on there….500 plus blog posts. Fortunately, I was able to hire someone for a mere $100 who recovered and repaired everything. But I may not be so lucky next time. It nearly brought me to tears. I tell you, these hackers are something else. Can’t they find something better to do with their time and their hacking skills?

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:37 pm

      Thank you EVER so much for following Ashley, Shelbee! And OH NOOOOOOOOOO to losing all that content… it must have been devastating. Thank goodness you got it back! x

  10. January 18, 2019 / 10:35 am

    It really is so awful for Ashley. It shows us all that we don’t have any ownership of our Insta accounts at all. Thank you Ashley for sharing the details of what happened to you so we can protect ourselves, and I wish you the joy that comes with a fresh clean start!

    I really need to put pop ups for my email lists; thank you Catherine for that reminder. I loathe pop ups, but I know they work and I’d rather have email subscribers than Insta followers any day.

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:38 pm

      I’m so grateful to Ashley for sharing what happened to help us, Lisa – I’m just really glad I can share with everyone ehre to hopefully help others!! Scary how much hangs on it, doesn’t it…

      I loathe pop ups too, but if you make them a bit more interesting than the generic run-of-the-mill pop up then I think it can work well (well it does for me)!!

  11. January 18, 2019 / 10:30 am

    I was doing Christmas shopping last year, as I was walking around my phone went off. It was a notification that someone for Hong Kong was trying (or was successful, I can’t remember!) to access my Instagram account. So in the middle of the mall, I was on my phone immediately changing my password for Instagram and setting up the 2 steps function.
    Moral of the story / if something seems to be amiss with your IG you will get an instant notification so you can change it straight away. xxx

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:40 pm

      I don’t think Ashley DID get a notification Anna – probably because her 2FA wasn’t switched on even though she thought it was. Thank goodness yours was protected!

  12. January 18, 2019 / 9:01 am

    Totally feel for Ashley .. it could’ve been any one of us. I’ve done a little by sharing via my own account and had a few messages from my own followers wondering where Ashley’s old account had gone.

    Totally why our blogs are more important than ever. Brands imo would get much more long term visibility if they didn’t love the bright lights of Instagram so much and what they think is a quick ROI.

    I lost a 6 figure business 6 years ago that Google could’ve helped with in a blink… long story and one we as a family are still recovering from 🙁

    Great post as ever, Catherine, highlighting the pitfalls and especially not to have eggs in one basket. ox

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:42 pm

      “Brands imo would get much more long term visibility if they didn’t love the bright lights of Instagram so much and what they think is a quick ROI” – I agree 100% Sharon!! But unfortunately that’s how the majority of them think nowadays… I get so few requests for blog posts, which is a shame. We shall see how things go this year…!

      Thank you also for supporting Ashley, you’re a love x

  13. January 18, 2019 / 8:26 am

    I’ve just followed new Ashley. Gail was telling me about this when I had tea with her this week. Yes I have 2 factor and just checked. Good reminder and fair point that it could be reset in an update.

    Thanks for a fantastic blog once again.

    https://www.muttonstyle.com

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:42 pm

      Thank you so much Anna – and for supporting our Ashley! x

  14. January 18, 2019 / 2:43 am

    What a nightmare…I went and followed Ashley immediately. As you suggested, I checked my two factor authentication just to make sure (I had it turned on) and lo and behold it was off…seriously? I’ll definitely double check it periodically.
    Thank you for all the info!
    Debbie
    http://www.fashionfairydust.com

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:43 pm

      You’re a star, thank you Debbie! And WOW she was right that the 2FA can get turned off… it’s bad, isn’t it?!! At least we know now…

  15. January 17, 2019 / 11:35 pm

    I HATE INSTAGRAM! xx

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:43 pm

      Short and to the point, Laurie… I feel ya!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. January 17, 2019 / 11:16 pm

    I saw that Ashley had been hacked, how awful. I’d be gutted if that happened to me. Thanks for sharing these tips… I’m going to turn on Two-Factor Authentication right now!

    Emma xxx
    http://www.style-splash.com

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:43 pm

      Thank you Emma – glad you’re now protected! x

  17. January 17, 2019 / 10:53 pm

    It really upset me when I heard about Ashley’s account being hacked. I felt terrible for her, losing all that lovely work. Ashley’s gallery was fab and she deserved every single one of those followers.
    I’ve had two factor on for some time because I was mysteriously blocked by Instagram and someone told me having this on unblocks you. It did.
    All still a big mystery to me and I often think the whole thing is random nonsense but there you go.
    I love how you make your point here Catherine. Terrific writing like this should be shared and go viral. Well done lady xx

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:44 pm

      I was angry, too – and thank you MT. Both for the kind words and for supporting A…!

  18. January 17, 2019 / 10:46 pm

    This is a really helpful article. Thanks for publishing so much content that’s helpful to new bloggers like me.

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:45 pm

      I’m so glad it’s helped you Julie – and hopefully protected you!! x

  19. January 17, 2019 / 10:21 pm

    Catherine, this is my total nightmare. Following Ashley because women supporting women is a beautiful thing, and she seems lovely. And enabling two-factor authentication NOW!
    Cheryl Shops | http://www.cherylshops.net

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:45 pm

      Ashley IS truly lovely Cheryl (both IRL and online) – thank you for the support!! x

  20. January 17, 2019 / 9:59 pm

    Catherine thank you for alerting us all to this peril, one of many I guess. I’ve followed Ashley again and sent my heartfelt sympathy. It no easy thing building up followers. I had almost 100k on Polyvore when it was bought out and closed down by SSense about a year ago. 4 years of hard work (and fun) all lost. Great article. Done the two-factor identification. Hugs Sarah aka Badassbabyboomer

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:46 pm

      Oh gosh YES I remember Polyvore Sarah!! I never used it myself but I really felt for those who used it regularly. Goes to show nothing is safe… thank you for supporting Ashley xx

  21. January 17, 2019 / 9:28 pm

    Thank you for bringing our attention to this Catherine, I know I need to pay more attention to these things. I feel for Ashley , what a dreadful thing to happen when you have worked so hard. i have now followed .
    Many thanks for the share-all link up.

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:46 pm

      Thank you Jill so much – I know how much she appreciates it!! x

  22. January 17, 2019 / 9:05 pm

    I really feel for Ashley and great that you’re helping her. I’m spending even less time on Instagram now. With the hackers, the endless bots, the algorithms which now barely show posts to 70 followers….it’s just not customer centric and I’m moving on. Waiting for the next big thing.

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:48 pm

      I know how you feel, Gail – my follower total is COMPLETELY stagnant right now… I never used to but whenever I post I lose 50-100 followers. I’m just over it now 🙁

  23. January 17, 2019 / 8:54 pm

    Catherine how can I ever thank you for your support and encouragement over the last week? I haven’t felt like blogging or social media at all since then. Slowly, slowly I am getting started again. I am not giving in !
    I so appreciate you sharing my story and hopefully it might prevent it happening to anyone else ?
    Love Ashley x

    • January 19, 2019 / 4:30 pm

      Ashley I am so extremely sorry that this has happened to you, all of that work. But that can not touch your blog thank goodness and this is a great reminder how important it is to build a wider brand and network. Much love, Hx

      • catherine
        Author
        January 23, 2019 / 10:50 pm

        Helen thank you for your support, you’re a star! C x

    • catherine
      Author
      January 23, 2019 / 10:49 pm

      MY ABSOLUTE PLEASURE my darling Ashley. I’m just glad that there’s been so much support for you!!!! It’s awful that this had to happen to you but thank you for giving me all the details so I could share it with everyone… hopefully we all know better now. Good luck, you’ll be great and back in the 1,000s in no time 😀 xoxoxo

  24. January 17, 2019 / 8:39 pm

    I saw that had happened to Ashley – what a nightmare! I couldn’t imagine it happening to me, and I don’t have any where near the number of followers! Thanks for so much imformation, I’ll be doing some housework for sure. Jacqui Mummabstylish

    • catherine
      Author
      January 17, 2019 / 8:43 pm

      A TOTAL nightmare for her, Jacqui! Yes, go and get that account secured right now…

  25. January 17, 2019 / 8:27 pm

    What a horror! I shared the post and of course follow her! How incredible nice of you to do that for her.

    • Catherine
      January 17, 2019 / 8:31 pm

      It was awful for her Nancy – it was the least I could do! Thank you so much for supporting her x

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