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Hackers target granola business, locking them out of Facebook and stealing $5000 | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Mike Cowlin and Sarah Hedger were locked out of their Facebook business account by hackers, who withdrew $5000 from their bank account.

Andy MacDonald/Stuff

Mike Cowlin and Sarah Hedger were locked out of their Facebook business account by hackers, who withdrew $5000 from their bank account.

A Nelson granola company has joined a growing number of small businesses who have lost their Facebook business account to hackers.

Yum Granola director Sarah Hedger learned her account had been hijacked after receiving a message from her mum, asking if she’d been hacked.

Not only were Hedger and her husband Mike Cowlin locked out of Facebook: $5000 had been drained from their bank account, with other payments pending.

“It was all the money we needed to operate for that month,” Hedger said.

After a fraught phone call with their bank, the money was returned a couple of days later.

However, almost three weeks later, they are still locked out of the business account, Hedger said.

Meta, who owns Facebook, had not been able to help: there was no one available to talk to, and the couple were left to deal with chatbots, going in circles to try and recover their account.

Hedger spent a lot of money on Facebook advertising: it’s how many new clients find the granola business, she said. “So we had an expectation they could help.”

But, they didn’t, and Stuff’s query to Meta, referred to Paul Cheong, the company’s communications representative in Australia, also fell flat.

“I have no statement for you,” Cheong said, sending a link to a help page.

Amy Cunningham and Benjamin Clark, Benjamin Black Goldsmiths directors, were left to pick up the pieces after Meta wouldn’t help them when their Facebook account was hacked.

Braden Fastier/Stuff

Amy Cunningham and Benjamin Clark, Benjamin Black Goldsmiths directors, were left to pick up the pieces after Meta wouldn’t help them when their Facebook account was hacked.

When Meta didn’t come through, Hedger gave Benjamin Black Goldsmiths a call.

Earlier this year, the jewellery business contacted Stuff after its Facebook page was hacked.

Designer Holly Brunner said when the story ran, a number of business owners got in touch, asking for help after getting nowhere with Meta.

Months later, they still get the odd phone call – Hedger’s was the second they’d received that day, Brunner said.

“We had no help through Facebook; we don’t really have any answer. We were just lucky,” she said.

CHRSITEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Bug Bounty deploys hackers for good to prevent security breaches.

After the jewellery business deactivated its credit card, the hackers had removed themselves, Brunner said. Brunner, still an administrator on the account, managed to recover her access. Other admins had been removed by the hackers.

Though nothing was foolproof, Brunner recommended that each Facebook admin enable two-factor authentification. Other measures included adding a back-up email, and checking carefully to see what security settings are available.

Hedger, still trying to recover her account, was not sure if she would continue to advertise on the social media platform. However, with Meta owning Facebook and Instagram, she felt her hands were tied.

“It’s hard to find another way: if you find something that works in that online space, you kind of stick with it.”

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