A few days ago a friend of mine text me asking why I had reactivated my Facebook page. After a year of reminding people I didn’t have Facebook any longer, I was very confused. She sent me a screenshot. “Umm… What the F***?” Sure enough, there was my page, live and well. I felt the blood drain from my face and my heart practically fell out of my ass. I couldn’t swallow the lump in my throat. I immediately grabbed my laptop and tried to sign in to my email account.
Sorry, your Password does not match. Try again.
I tried again. And again. Carefully entering my password every time. Every time I was informed my password was incorrect. Eventually I hit “Account has been hacked” button and went through the motions. I finally got back in to the account I’ve had for a previously problem-free 13 years. There, in among a deluge of promotional emails, was the “Welcome Back to Facebook!” email. My account had been live since Wednesday last week. I wanted to vomit. I clicked the email and followed the followed the motions again.
When I got on to my Facebook page it’s amazing how much anxiety flooded through me, just seeing Facebook open on my screen. I had zero, ZERO desire to scroll. I didn’t want to be a part of it; I didn’t want to be part of the trap, the echo chamber again. I had been free for 12 months and I wasn’t going to let some shit-bag with my password ruin the peace I had found. I clicked options, and deactivated Facebook – for the second time – without hesitation.
When I hit the Deactivate button, Facebook asked why I was deactivating. I couldn’t resist the chance to tell them what I thought. I clicked “Other – Please specify” and wrote
“I refuse to be drawn back in to your advertisement riddled echo chamber. I’ve loved the freedom of not being a part of your insipid isolating “community” and expanding my circles without your false, callous, dissociated and impersonal aid.”
… or something to that effect.
I was angry. I was angry my privacy had been violated. I was angry my identity had been taken from me, even though nothing (I know about) had happened with it. It seems like a harmless, incidental act – reactivating my Facebook – but I was livid and I felt so vulnerable. It rattled me in a way I haven’t felt in a very long time.
The next morning, after setting up multiple steps of verification on every single account I have for anything, I recieved a notification.
We have a log in attempt in the United States. Is this you? Yes/No.
I saw red. Anger, vulnerability, scared and icy dread flooded though me again and I clicked no. I reported the incident and changed my password again; silently thanking myself for adding extra verification on EVERYTHING.
Cyber security is not something most people think about on a day to day basis. Which is a scary prospect given the fact most of our lives are lived online, in a cloud, and over some form of digital platform. In talking to some people about being hacked, and having two parents who work in technology and cyber security, it always strikes me as odd that most people are happy having one password for everything. This is incredibly dangerous.
If, for some reason, you have one password for all of your online accounts, one pin number for you cards, phone, and accounts; please, PLEASE change them. I know it’s a pain to remember, but it’s a worthwhile investment. I feel like it shouldn’t need to be stated, and we shouldn’t need to be reminded, but one password in a age of ever increasing tech (both bad and good) it’s vital we protect ourselves digitally.
There are a few ways you can prevent or at least hinder any kind of fraudulent activity.
- Have different passwords and pass codes for EVERYTHING.
- Set up 2 or 3 step verification. This means that you have a password, a fingerprint, and potentially a Yes/No verification text sent through to your phone number.
- Encryption keys that give you a once off password every time you log in. You have the password for only a minute, log in, and that’s it. once you log out, the password changes
For most people the first two are sufficient to feel secure and for the most part it often is. There are many more ways to protect yourself online, but it’s worth doing your research. It was an awful feeling – seeing that someone had accessed my accounts – and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. Please reset your passwords, rethink your pin numbers, and keep yourself safe.
Until next time,
Stay Silly xx