Remember ME1 Clarie Teo? The poster girl from the Singapore Navy who melted many hearts and send many Singaporean men rushing to sign up for the Navy?

She’s now a student at the National University of Singapore studying Mechanical Engineering and also a successful social media influencer with over 20k fans on her Facebook and Instagram accounts each.

That was till her accounts got hacked recently and we got in touch with her about it.

In her own words, she hope to caution everyone about cybersecurity. Her full account as below:

“On 20th September 2018, my Instagram account got hacked by what I believe is a syndicate. The hackers managed to log in to my Instagram account and held it hostage. They immediately changed my handle, password and the associated email address rendering it impossible for me to access my account.

Using the email addresses [email protected] and [email protected], the hackers repeatedly demanded for cash in exchange for my account to be restored. They have also threatened to delete my account.

I know what you’re thinking, I must have failed to keep it secure. But I did. In fact, I activated the 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) feature the moment it was available. It puzzles me why that has failed. Fast forward to a week, I am still waiting for Instagram to take action.

I reported this incident to the police and they have shared some incredibly useful insights and tips on cybersecurity and I would like to pass on!

Your Online Accounts Don’t Disappear With Time

Online platforms usually require an email address upon signing up for an account. Unless you’ve taken the step to delete those accounts, they remain on the internet forever! I have not logged into Neopets or Tumblr in the last decade, literally, but they became avenues in which those hackers accessed my personal information.

Public Wi-Fi Are Less Secured Than You Think

Public Wi-Fi (including that of schools and your favorite malls or cafes) are not secured. Data sent across those networks can be easily retrieved by those syndicates and used against you. Therefore, instead of eagerly trying to connect to free Wi-Fi in order to avoid bursting of data, everyone should take extra caution and avoid connecting to unsecured networks.

So don’t be complacent, as I regretfully was.

Here are some tips to keep your accounts secured:

1. Encrypt your passwords and change them regularly

2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs enable users to send and receive data, anonymously and securely

3. Log out of your online accounts after use especially when you own multiple devices

4. Do not abuse the “keep me logged in” function for convenience sake because it is not exactly safe to do so.

Yup, that’s all I have to share with people. Hoping that they too, be extra careful, and be diligent in keeping their accounts safe.

The internet brings joy and entertainment, but it is no doubt a dangerous place.

Hackers do not just hack social media influencers, it can be anyone and everyone.”

We are in touch with Clarie Teo and will be finding out more from here about the situation. Stay tuned for updates. She had made a police report about the incident and the hacking is being investigated. Meanwhile, she seems to be in a positive and chirpy mood, taking everything in stride and coping with it well, restarting with a new Instagram account – @xclarieacaciateo