Question no. 12

What to do When Your Instagram Account is Hacked?

Now we also have our true crime story – including a ransom note. Here is the diary.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

As usual, I arrive at my workplace this morning and start up the computer. I calmly let the mails tumble into my Outlook. So much for the usual. I go through mail after mail and diligently warm up the keyboard until I come across a mail from Instagram: "You have Violated Instagram Copyrights," it says. Our Instagram account will be blocked in 48 hours. Panic, sweating. Is this possible? Google says yes, the mail seems to be real.

One click and off we go: "We've noticed a new login tonhalleorchester", a mail from Instagram in Turkish, "Email changed on Instagram", "Phone number removed on Instagram", "Sorry to hear you're having trouble logging into Instagram". Minute by minute our Instagram account was getting hacked. More panic, more sweating.

"Google, what to do if Instagram account is hacked and password changed?" Any help from forums and instructions via Instagram's help section lead nowhere. Our mail address is already connected to a fake account, the password has been changed, and even via the telephone number every login attempt fails. The tonhalleorchester account is in someone else's hands and is now suddenly called tondksmsmsmsm.

While we in the team tried to establish contact via Instagram's parent company Meta, the ransom demand from a foreign number arrives: "We hacked your account and now you want the account pay 400€ in bitcoin and I will give you the account."

With tricks and detours, we manage to get a human voice on the phone at Meta. One of Zuckerberg's subjects takes care of our problem and assures me that he will look out for it - yay, some hope for a good ending. However, it takes at least 48 hours. That means waiting and staying patient.

Friday, 27 January 2023

Today I went to the police! A complaint against an unknown person. Right on time for my appointment, I'm standing in front of the Zurich City Police building. They let you in through a system of locks. Cameras everywhere. "Did I really not do anything wrong?" I ask myself. It's like the ticket control in the tram, I always have the feeling that I haven't bought one. A strange feeling.

But of course I am there to report the hack attack. After I have answered all the standard questions of the police protocol, my queasy feeling slowly leaves me. I describe what happened. A common incident, according to the police. For some time now, such hack attacks have been on the rise, especially at Meta. The ransom demand is also a standard text. A business model that seems to work. All the more important, I am told, not to respond to the demand for money.

I leave the police. The only thing that remains is the "visitor" sticker on my jacket. And the hope that, thanks to the contact at Meta, we will get our channel back.

Monday, 30 January 2023

We got our Instagram channel back! Meta kicked out the hacker and sent us a link via a new email address so that we can reset our login data. However, the mail comes in in Turkish, which irritates me a little. But my now good friend at Meta assures me that it is indeed from them. I click hesitantly and get closer to my happy ending: I can edit my Instagram credentials. I set a new, sophisticated password (hackers, beware!) and try to log in again. With success!

I have control over the tonhalleorchester Instagram account again. Finally I can post and report about our orchestra.

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published: 02.02.2023