I Was Hacked! Lessons to Protect Your Brand

If you have been following me, you may have noticed that there have been no posts from me in a few days.  I finished my blog challenge last week, where I wrote for 31 days.  My plan was to continue writing but to cut it down to several times a week.  What was not in my plan was an adverse situation I experienced on Labor Day Monday.

I thought the day would be a relaxing one ; I just wanted  to spend time shopping and taking it easy.  But several events that day left me shaken and wondering about the planetary alignment; we did have two full moons this month and craziness tends to occur:

  • my car got hit (thankfully, just a scratch)
  • a woman came in postal in a restaurant – she was upset over being late for work and was cursing and threatening to the manager; it was very scary
  • a tube light bulb and a stack of picture frames broke in two stores I was in and someone broke a bottle in another

If those weren’t enough, my Twitter account got hacked – that had me shaken the most.  I had not been on my computer for several days so it was very disturbing when I began to receive some messages from followers, as well as phone calls from friends, asking about messages I had sent.  Now I don’t direct message so I had no idea what they were talking about.  When I was able to get to my computer, I found that someone had hacked my account and was sending out spam.  I had to quickly work to take steps to correct it and to mea culpa; protecting my brand is a major concern for me, as it should be with everyone.

On the advice of a friend who is a Twitter expert, I have had to ‘lay low’ for several days thus not writing.  But I’m back now.   This brought me back to two years ago  when my website got hacked and I had to start over in rebuilding my site and in getting my name back out there.  It is really disheartening to know that there are people out there who take pleasure in doing this.  Maybe all of those events were actually a wake-up call that I need to be more diligent and aware of what is put out on the web and how I am positioned.

So I thought that you would benefit from the lessons I had to learn. We are in this age of being internet-driven; you have to apply for jobs online, you need to promote your business through social media.  We are all potential victims which can lead to adverse situations if not handled correctly.

  • Be diligent – when you are positioning yourself as an expert the internet is the easiest and best place to promote yourself but you need to be diligent in what you post, when you post, and for ensuring that the content you put out there is purposeful;  be leery of clicking on links as you never know what lies in there, i.e. virus
  • Be Aware – you need to always know how you are being viewed by others; Google yourself, watch your numbers and analytics to know who follows you or posts about you.  This does not guarantee that you won’t be compromised but you can minimize any potential damage to your name or brand early
  • Be Smart – often times, hackers ‘ping’ to get into your sites and they do so through your passwords so be smart on which one(s) you choose; be sure to have both upper and lower case, numbers and symbols in them; change them periodically to keep those hackers away
  • Be Sure – to watch your language and pictures on your social media sites, especially Facebook.  Employers go to this site to learn about you, your character, and your ‘brand.’  Customers go to your website and other social media sites to see what you offer and if they want to buy from you so regular monitoring is essential
  • Be Positive – as my friend told me, “this is not the end of the world – it happens to everyone at one time or another.”  If you have taken the steps to clean up the mess and focus on showcasing your brand, people are forgiving.  It sometimes is a hard lesson to learn but these are the ones that make us stronger in the future.

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