Getting Hacked – Lessons Learned

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Last week, my @pelvic_resilience Instagram Account was hacked!
Arrrrgggghhhhhh beyond being a ginormous pain in the a$$ & an enormous loss, it was an extremely uncomfortably violation. There has been disbelief, frustrated tears, moments of feeling completely stuck and frozen, and then a heck of a lot of scrambling to get the word out to as many of my contacts as possible in hopes that they would not also get sucked into this horrendous scam.

I would love to share with you lessons I have learned in the last couple of days in hopes that it will support you with 1) protecting yourself and 2) offering yourself some self-compassion when you reveal your humaness by making an error in judgement.

Here’s The Inside Scoop!

“How could I have been so naive and stupid as to have fallen for a phishing scam”. Wow! Hello personal biases towards victims of this abuse, I didn’t see you hiding there in the shadows until this very moment.

So let me tell you how they got me!

I received a DM from an account that looked safe and familiar. We were following one another on IG and had lots of mutual connections in the Women’s Health OT community. So I thought nothing of it when her DM asked me to support her with a vote in a contest. I am all about promoting the work of women’s health OT and paying forward the support that I have received from this community.

RED FLAG: “All you have to do is take a screenshot of the link I am going to send you and share it with me here”
ME: “Ok they are not asking me to actually click on a link that I do not know which I do know would not be smart”. That’s a quick and easy way to support someone who I assumed was a fellow Women’s Health OT.

I was busy, preoccupied and eager to help and so I did it. I missed the red flags. How did she access my telephone number to text the link? I still don’t know.

The link gave the hacker access to my account, they turned on 2 factor authentification and changed the email address and phone number connected to the account effectively locking me out and taking over.

It’s a nightmare! They are now starting conversations with all my contacts claiming to be me and trying to push a Bitcoin scam. Thankfully most folks know that this sooooo not me!

I have gone through all of the avenues with Instagram to try and recover this account. My claims and attempts for them to capture my image don’t meet their criteria to expose this as a hack. I have spoken to others who this has happened to who have unfortunately corroborated that unless you are an “Influencer” Instagram just won’t or can’t take action. Many have spent months and $$$ to no avail.

I am feeling all of the feelings these past couple of days! I am riddled with anger, frustration, guilt, shame, and the urge to throw in the towel, call it a day on this work and go back to a good old fashion 9-5 OT gig.

And then I remembered something I once heard…

“When you replace ‘why is this happening to me?’ to ‘what is this trying to teach me?’ everying shifts.” 

Let me share with you the things that I think, at this point, I am meant to learn and called to share!

1) First and Foremost…Yes, don’t click the strange link. AND DON’T COPY/SHARE IT EITHER!

2) 2 Factor Authentification is my friend and in all likelihood would have protected me here. Hindsight 20/20. NOW TURNED ON ON ALL MY ACCOUNTS! I HIGHLY recommend this!

3) Be more mindful. My default is to trust humans and their stories. That trust has been shaken BUT I value this about myself. Perhaps, when I am online, it will be helpful to keep in mind that this is not the same as a human to human connection and I need to have more of a guard up.

4) Remember what I have learned from the brilliance that is Brene Brown about the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is “I have done something bad”; Shame is “I am bad”. I have certainly labeled myself all sorts of ugly things and have been urged towards the SHAME rabbit hole but this has been helpful to keep in mind. This was a mistake, an error in judgement…the guilt will help me learn and grow for it. It is uncomfortable but useful. The shame, on the other hand, is a lie. I am a worthy human deserving of forgiveness from myself.

5) Self-compassion. One of the key components of self-compassion is acknowledging the common humanity of our suffering. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has reached out to offer me their empathy and who have even shared their own experiences of getting hacked in different ways. I am certainly not alone. It is still incredibly sad to acknowledge that this is something we have to worry about, but it always helps to feel less alone.

6) Keep checking my biases. Wow! I couldn’t believe the way that I was speaking to myself yesterday and I am taking pause today to acknowledge, in hindsight, some of the judgements that have likely come up for me upon learning of others being hacked. The ‘othering’ that my brain was doing in these instances likely served to keep me feeling falsely safe and secure (“that would never happen to me”). I vow to keep monitoring for and checking these biases and am forever grateful to all of the thoughtful and intelligent folks out there who have reached out to share their stories and blow this bias out of the water for me. Yes it can happen to me and I need to have more empathy!

7) Let it go. Not right away. I need to learn AND take action to protect (to the best of my ability) my contacts. I need to do what is in my control to try and make this important enough to IG to flag and HOPEFULLY remove this account. Beyond that, learning that I have no recourse or capacity to regain access has been heartbreaking. I have poured my heart and soul into a lot of the content there. I will take the actions that are within my control and I will grieve and then I will resist the urge to throw in the towel on this whole venture and I will move forward without this IG account.

What’s Next?

Many of you have asked me where you will be able to find me in order stay connected. Here is the scoop on that…

I have decided to use this as an opportunity to get you the information that you want and need much more effectively. There are so many different people from different backgrounds connected with me on the Grams. People struggling with pain or other pelvic health challenges and looking for OT support, people navigating Pelvic Organ Prolapse, and clinicians looking to learn!

So…if you are an individual with pain or pelvic health challenges looking for OT information or support, the Pelvic Resilience mailing list is the place to be.
I love writing and this will be where you get access to my refelctions, tips to manage your pain & pelvic health as well as updates on my clinical practice!

If you are a health care professional interested in the content you are finding here! That’s awesome! Thank you for being here! I would like to invite you to also sign up for the PR mailing list below to stay informed of a new platform specific to you and your professional development hopes & needs COMING SOON!

If you are someone with Pelvic Organ Prolapse specifically, I have MORE to offer you in other spaces!
I have education, offerings and content specific for women navigating POP over at Mind Your POP™ with curiosity, flexibility and hope! My passion project!

I am beyond grateful to everyone who reached out to offer support through the chaos and share with me your incredibly infuriating & terrifying experiences with hackers!