Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

An Instagram influencer from UAE who writes about travel recently got the rudest shock that an influencer can get. An online criminal deleted Delaine Maria D’Costa’s Instagram account with 100,000 followers, after hacking it. The hacker did this as he was angered when Delaine didn’t respond quickly to his ransom demand of $200 to let her regain access to her account.

Delaine’s entire social media-based account got wiped out.

“As a travel blogging couple, my husband Jackson and I had amassed 105,000 followers over several years. We had invested a huge amount of time and effort on our Instagram pictures,” said D’Costa to Gulf News. She is licensed by National Media Council (NMC) to promote brands, businesses and products.

Certify your team in cybersecurity before your company is hit by a cyberattack

How Delaine’s nightmare unfolded

  • On October 29 noon Delaine got an email proposing collaboration with a fashion brand
  • She clicked on a link in the email asking her to share her Instagram username and password
  • Delaine changed her password immediately but her account got locked due to some reason
  • Shortly after Delaine entered her Instagram details, she got an email informing that her account has been hacked and she needs to pay Bitcoin worth 400$ to regain access
  • The hacker lessened the ransom amount to 200$
  • Unfortunately, Delaine’s payment didn’t go through
  • The hacker got enraged and deleted her Delaine’s account


A frustrating experience with Instagram

When Delaine called Instagram’s helpline, she was asked to contact them through their app.

She couldn’t do so because her username, phone number and email ID no longer existed on After numerous attempts, Instagram sent an email asking Delaine to submit a picture of her carrying a placard bearing her name and her Instagram account along with a code number they sent.

Instagram sent another email seeking the name of the device Delaine used to first register with them. It was virtually impossible for Delaine to do so because she created the account in 2012 and has changed numerous devices since then.

In recent times, Instagram has been hit by a widespread hacking campaign which appears to have affected hundreds of users, leaving them unable to recover their accounts.

Victims say that despite going through all the necessary steps, the platform has yet to assist and the automated systems that Instagram uses for account recovery have not proved effective.


How to secure your Instagram account

  • Pick a strong password. Use a combination of at least six numbers, letters and punctuation marks (like ! and &). It should be different from other passwords you use elsewhere on the internet.
  • Change your password regularly, especially if you see a message from Instagram asking you to do so. During automated security checks, Instagram sometimes recovers login information that was stolen from other sites. If Instagram detects that your password may have been stolen, changing your password on Instagram and other sites helps to keep your account secure and prevent you from being hacked in the future.
  • Never give your password to someone you don’t know and trust.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication for additional account security.
  • Make sure your email account is secure. Anyone who can read your email can probably also access your Instagram account. Change the passwords for all of your email accounts and make sure that no two are the same.
  • Log out of Instagram when you use a computer or phone you share with other people. Don’t check the “Remember Me” box when logging in from a public computer, as this will keep you logged in even after you close the browser window.
  • Think before you authorize any third-party app.


How to keep your blog secure

  • Use a domain (web address such as that has an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. It might sound technical but don’t worry you can simply ask your domain provider about SSL certificates.
  • Never use a common password for all your accounts – e.g. email, blog etc.
  • Always update your CMS to the latest version. Hackers find a lot more security holes and problems in older versions of blogging platforms.
  • Ensure you always use a secure public network when blogging on the go
  • Hacker’s job gets a lot easier when they know which server you are connected to. Always keep hackers confused by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
  • This one is a no-brainer! If your blog is connected to an app on your smartphone, never lose your gadget.
  • Needless to say, always use the latest version of anti-viruses