Two weeks ago, I shared about my Facebook being hacked and destroyed. Realistically, hacked is the wrong term. It started as hacked and ended as hijacked for some strange purpose.
After the hackers logged in from Algeria, changed my name, email, and cellphone number so that I couldn't log in anymore, they continued on to change my gender, location, religion, and interests, but they kept my hometown and my friend's list. They also scheduled for all of my Facebook business pages to be deleted. I have no idea what their motivation was to take control of my account. It really doesn't make sense to me...
I did, however, get my account back with no help from Facebook, discovered how they were able to hack me AND just how much personal information they obtained. I hope what I learned can help you stay safer online too.
So let's start with the how:
As my account was being accessed from Algeria, I was receiving messages from Facebook asking if I had logged in from a new device. I'd click "no" and change my password, thinking everything was safe, but then it would happen again and again. It turns out I had malware on my cellphone so the hackers could track everything that I did. We first scanned my laptop for some kind of bug, and it was clean, so then I downloaded AVG for androids and discovered the malware on my phone.
I also made the huge mistake of having really easy passwords and using the same password for different accounts. This allows hackers easy access to so much information. I’ve since changed my passwords for everything and recorded them in a booklet. I also stopped allowing Google to keep track of my passwords in case my google account is ever compromised.
Once I removed the malware and changed my passwords across all of my accounts, I still had no access to my Facebook. The hackers had reported all of my help messages to Facebook as spam. They deleted the last month of my own posts, as well as my profile picture. With a different name, I couldn't even search for myself and when I'd search for the name they changed me into, a long list of possibilities matched it. My old account seemed lost in a sea of billions.
Thankfully, my husband had made a note of the handle they had put up on my account though: Douma Ali.
I went to the Facebook login page and started typing a variety of Douma Ali @ gmail.com until Facebook actually recognized an email address and then allowed me to change the email from the hackers account to my own, then they sent a link to reset my password. Once I received an email to MY Gmail account, I was able to regain access and change everything from a secured internet connection.
When I logged in, Facebook had a message stating that I should block “Alexandra Kulick” for harassment and reporting the Facebook as hacked… thanks! Then, I immediately removed all of my bank information that had been stored on Facebook for business pages and alerted my bank as well.
Since all of this, my relationship with social media has drastically changed. My husband and I would use Messager to chat throughout the day and share photos of the kids, and some creep had access to all of that, not to mention 11 of year’s worth of photos that I had completely forgotten about.
I've been taking the time to download all of my photo albums to preserve the memories, but I won't be putting much up anymore. OR, accessing social media from anything other than my laptop. Even with antivirus protection on my phone, the reality that someone else can be watching and tracking is alarming, and the motive for it is still so unclear.
Facebook is simply too big to provide protection for any of us. Even as someone who has invested money with them for advertising, they simply didn't have the time or the ability to respond to my messages when my account was hacked with anything other than a generic reply. I would have been flat out of luck had I not guessed the hacker’s email.
Recently the founder of Whatsapp has been urging people to abandon Facebook, as the creators exploit the users for their own gain. But for many of us, deleting Facebook just seems impractical so my advice is to make sure all of your photos are backed up safely. Facebook allows you to download entire albums in zipped files instead of individual photos to make that process easier. Also, make sure your password is unique to Facebook and contains letters, numbers, and symbols. Be sure to have antivirus software on your cell phones and avoid using public wifi. Finally, by weary that even private messages in Messanger can be accessed by hackers and facebook alike.
Stay safe out there, friends!
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.