How to Protect Your Homeschool from Hijacking
Right before Christmas my HomeschoolSanity Instagram account was hacked. You may wonder what that has to do with you. This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I explain what happened and how my experience can help you protect not just your social media accounts but your homeschool and life from hijacking.
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Protect Your Homeschool Life from Hijacking
If you clicked on my stories for Homeschool Sanity for Instagram during Christmas week, you may wonder why I'm obsessed with cryptocurrency, bragging about the Mercedes I bought with my profits, and using a lot of y'all's in the captions. My account was hacked. There appeared to be no way for me to get it back. Instagram does not have email, chat, or phone support. Instead, a broken autoresponder was my only option for restoring access, and much to my disappointment, I did not get a Christmas miracle of suddenly getting it back by the 25th.
How I Was Hijacked
How did this happen? I wish I could say that I did everything right. But I did not. In fact, that's why I'm sharing this episode. Because there are a number of things I did wrong. I made some embarrassingly stupid moves. I'm sad to say it isn't the first time. It was the first time I lost a social media account to a hacker, yes. But not the first time I've made choices that made it easy for the enemy to hijack my life.
I have learned a lot from these experiences, however, that I want to share with you in the hopes that your social media and your homeschool will be safe from hijackers.
The first reason my Instagram account was hijacked is because I had emotions I hadn't managed. In my case, it was guilt. I had contacts with two people the day my account was hijacked who wanted money from me. My family and I had been generous with them in the past. I owed them nothing. In fact, they have a history of manipulation. But because they are still poor, I felt some guilt about not helping them.
Later that day a woman, who had wanted to sell me makeup in the past, direct-messaged me on Instagram. I looked at her request that I vote for her as an ambassador as well as the fact that I had never purchased makeup from her and guess what I felt? Guilt.
If I had done some truth journaling or some chatting with my husband about the guilt I was feeling earlier in the day, it would have been managed. I never would have been vulnerable to this request.
Guilt isn't the only unmanaged emotion that can result in a hijacking, though. Fear and anger are two others. Moses let anger at an Egyptian who was beating a fellow Israelite lead him to kill the man. He then had to leave Egypt in fear for his life. We can all think of foolish things we've done out of fear and anger that were not managed properly.
The second way I opened myself up to the hijacking of my Instagram account is that I was distracted. I was helping my son make Christmas cut-out cookies and what was I doing? Looking at my Instagram messages. Had my phone been put away first, I wouldn't have lost my account. Or had I looked at the message and set my phone aside until I could focus, I wouldn't have been hijacked.
We can be following an exercise and eating plan that works, when staying up late to watch a show causes us to sleep in and miss a workout. We can be talking to a family member and trying to read at the same time, resulting in a loss of connection. Distractions make it easy for the enemy to get to you. King David was supposed to be with his army in the spring. Instead, he was watching a married woman bathe on the rooftop next door. As a result of this distraction, King David's reign was hijacked.
Ignoring Red Flags
The third way I opened myself up to hijacking is that I ignored the red flags. The requests this person I supposedly knew were as fishy as a salmon pan left in the oven overnight, yet I went along with them likely because of my guilt and distraction. I honestly still can't believe I did it, but I wanted to get the request over with. Sometimes we ignore red flags and get hijacked because we are in a hurry. Whatever is the quickest, easiest way to get a time demand out of the way is typically what we choose. That's what I chose anyway. I wanted this person to leave me alone so I could get to the cookies.
We notice the negative influence someone is on us or our kids, but we blow it off. We see the anxiety that watching or reading the news creates for us, but we rationalize it. We have a bad feeling about the co-op we joined, but we tell ourselves we have no other options.
The hijacker didn't have to explain why things seemed so fishy. I explained it for him. My account security is keeping me from voting for her. That's what I thought. Why would I ignore that red flag? One reason is because I forgot God's warning in 1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I was like Hezekiah in 2 Kings who showed the Babylonian envoys the treasure. Not smart.
The fourth way I opened myself up to hijacking is denial. Even though the signs that I'd been hijacked were undeniable, I denied them. I just forgot my password. That's all. I'll get right back in. Only I couldn't. Denial is based in fear and pride. I was afraid to face the fact that someone in Nigeria had just taken over my account. I was too proud to admit that I couldn't quickly fix it.
I was like the Israelites who refused to enter the Promised Land until they were rebuked and punished by God. Then they tried going in without Him. It didn't go well. It didn't go well for me either when I panicked and initially thought that text messages I received were from Instagram trying to help me regain access to my account. Instead, they were from the hacker.
We are in denial when we ignore the signs that our husband has become distant, our child is struggling, or our debt is increasing. The answer isn't to keep trying to solve the problem on our own. We need help!
Recovering from Hijacking
After trying to regain access to my account for several days with no success, I gave up. I created a new account and started telling people to unfollow and block my homeschoolsanity account. Giving up is the first step in being free. It's what I did many years ago when I couldn't get my eating under control. I admitted to God that I couldn't do it. That's when He took over. Admitting powerlessness is the first step in 12-step programs. It doesn't mean you don't care. It only means you can't fix it in your own strength.
The day after I gave up, I heard from a connection who learned about my account problem. He sent me this message: “You have to know someone.” He pledged to help me after the holidays. That was great news for me. But what about you? What if you don't know someone who works for Instagram? What if you don't know a counselor, a doctor, or a loan officer? The thing is, you know Someone better. Giving the problem to God will either result in success the way you define it or success the way He does. You cannot fail. Deuteronomy 30:1-3 reads: “When all these things come upon you—the blessings and curses I have set before you—and you call them to mind in all the nations to which the LORD your God has banished you, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey His voice with all your heart and all your soul according to everything I am giving you today, then He will restore you from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you from all the nations to which the LORD your God has scattered you.”
Even when we've been hijacked as a the result of our own foolishness, God will help us and restore us.
After being assured that help was coming, I figured there was no harm in using the automation to try to regain access to my account. I went through the steps as I had so many times before without success. But this time, boom. I was back in control of my account. I quickly took steps to ensure the hacker could not regain access.
When we recover from any kind of hijacking, that's what we have to do, too–fortify our lives so we can't be hijacked again. We want to manage our emotions, avoid distractions, pay attention to red flags, and ask for help from the One who can restore us.
After I was logged in, I realized a blessing from this experience. The hacker had direct-messaged many of my followers, asking them to vote for me as an ambassador. Most of these people said yes. They didn't even know what I was wanting to be an ambassador for! But they said yes. They were kind and generous with their time. I pray I can be as kind and generous with mine going forward.
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Thanks again to CTC Math for sponsoring the podcast.
Have a happy homeschool week!