Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Time that Hackers Made Me Arabic

If you take a look at me, there's pretty much a zero percent chance that you'd mistake me for someone of Arabic or Middle Eastern descent.  But about 2 days ago, if you were to take a look at my instagram, you might get a different idea.

I'll start at the beginning.

On Tuesday night, I got several follow requests from people I didn't know.  I didn't think much of it, I accepted their requests and moved on with my life.  Wednesday morning, I noticed that 2 different individuals with the name of "Ahmed" had requested to follow me.  I thought it was a really funny coincidence, so I took a screenshot.

But then I started thinking a little bit more about it.  Why was I getting follow requests at all?  I have a public profile.  Anyone can follow me without my permission.  Then I looked closer at some of the people that had requested to follow me.  They weren't just following me.  They were following me back.  I was already following them.

What?  I never followed these people.  What is going on?

Then I looked closer at my profile.  My profile picture hadn't changed.  I was still as white as they come.  But my name had changed.  It was something in Arabic.  I also looked at who I was following.  I was following all the people I used to follow, as well as a little over 100 other individuals, most of them Arabic.  (I clicked on profiles and their pictures had captions written in Arabic.)

The obvious conclusion was that I had been hacked.

I can only think of two possible theories for why this hacking occurred.

  • One of my friends thinks that Arabic culture would really suit me, so they thought I might enjoy seeing pictures of that culture.  (If this is true and it was you, the better strategy is to make me some Arabic food.  I'm just sayin')
  • Someone in an Arabic country has one of those things where people pay for followers.  They used my account as a follower and wanted it to seem like a legit Arab account.
  • Somebody just thought it would be really funny.  (I probably would agree with them.)
Maybe there is some other reason.  I'm not sure.  

I think the strangest part of all of it was that they set my account to private.  I think it would have taken me much longer to realize it if they hadn't done that.  The follow back requests were what set me off.

The important thing is that I changed my password and unfollowed all of my new Arabic friends.  (Although, I think some of the follow backs still follow me.)  I also set my profile to public again, so all of you are free to follow me without asking my permission.

I think the moral of the story is that hackers are weird.

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