Hackers, Imposters, and Phishing - Oh My! Is Your Account At Risk?
I'm writing this from an undercover lair because they are hacking err'body out here.
But seriously it seems like everyday someone I know is being impersonated, their account has been hacked, or they received a crazy phishing email that looks like a brand partnership.
Let's break down each of these and what you can do to prevent the chaos that follows:
Scenario 1: Someone is impersonating you.
The NYTimes wrote a not-so-great article about awful people impersonating influencers and it happens more than you think. [Brands Beware: Influencer Impostors Want Your Free Stuff]
Basically someone creates an email that looks similar to yours, but maybe swaps some 0s for Os and Is for ls. Then they reach out to a bunch of brands and offer to do a collaboration in exchange for product. The brand says yes, because they are STOKED they don't have to pay you, and this rando gets the product. You never post and weeks later, when you run into the brand at an event, they yell at you and you're left wondering WTF?
How do you avoid this? Never use a public email as your contact email. No @gmails, @yahoos, @aols, or @hotmails. Your email should only be X@yourdomainname.com. That way if a brand gets a weird email and they want to verify, they can. Make it easy for them and hard for the impersonator.
Scenario 2: You get hacked.
As we learned from that poor girl who cried on YouTube when her account was deleted, Mark. Does. Not. Care. About. You. The same thing goes for when you've been hacked.
Even if you have someone on the inside, it's very difficult to get your account back.
Everyone SWEARS by Juan the hacker, but you also have to give him access to all of your information in order for him to help you. He can charge whatever he wants and the higher your follower count, the more it will cost for him to assist. [Hacked Instagram Influencers Rely on White-Hat Hackers to Get Their Accounts Back]
How can you avoid this? 1) Change your password often. 2) Turn on two-factor verification. 3) Use a third-party authentication app approved by Instagram. 4) Don't log into websites using your Instagram profile. Sign up using an email and password. 5) Don't use the same password for your Instagram and your recovery email address.
[I'll be covering ways to diversify your outlets so you don't have all of your eggs in Mark's basket at my brand building workshops. D.C. is October 12th followed by Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago.]
Scenario 3: You receive a strange brand offer and open yourself up to phishing.
THIS JUST HAPPENED TO ME! Some clothing company, that has a legitimate Instagram online, sent me an email asking for a brand partnership. Lo-and-behold it was a scam but I could smell it from a mile away.
The English was poor, the email was not associated with the brand, and when I hovered over the link for their IG account, the website had yesware in the url.
But if you were tired, overworked, stressed, or just desperate for a partnership, you might have clicked that link. You might have seen the familiar looking (but totally fake) Instagram login page. And you might have just handed a hacker the keys to your influencer kingdom. [My Instagram Got Hacked And This Is What I Did!]
How can you avoid this? Don't ever log into Instagram from someone else's link. And to be honest, when was the last time you logged OUT? Check all emails for the sender's address, hover over all links, and check the language and grammar. And trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
[I am here to chat with you about any and all brand / security concerns you have as an influencer. And if I don't know the answer, I know someone who does. Schedule a one-on-one coaching session with me.]
Independent media brands (Refinery29) and beauty brands (Drunk Elephant) are getting acquired and brands are gearing up to spend EVEN MORE in 2020.
It may be scary times out here for influencers, but that just means your brands have more power than ever.
Prepare yourself, protect yourself, and let's do this.