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Image / Agenda / Business

‘Immediately I lost 30k followers that I’d built over 8 years’


by Holly O'Neill
15th May 2021

Read time: 3 minutes

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Nima Brush is an Irish award winning make-up brush and accessories company established in 2012 and run by make-up artist, Niamh Martin and her husband, Brian. Here, Niamh tells the story of how easily her social media accounts were taken over in the hopes of warning other small business to protect their accounts.

On bank holiday Monday, May 3, the Nima Brush platform on Instagram was hacked, ransomed and eventually deleted.

I received a ‘verification’ email to have the Nima Brush Instagram page verified, which looked completely authentic. I clicked through and immediately received emails that the account had a change of email, username, phone number…everything.

A sinister email followed with threats of holding the page for two hours until the ransom was paid ‘or else.’ If I didn’t pay the ransom, the page and contents would be erased and sold.

The @NimaBrush handle across social media platforms was completely erased. Immediately I lost 30k followers that I’d built over 8 years. In a moment of panic, I took to my personal social media to immediately report it and let people know.

There was zero support or help from Instagram or Facebook. It felt like setting up a new page was the only resource I had. I set up a new page – @nimabrush_official – and shared with a warning of what had happened, with the hope of advising people to be extremely vigilant in what they were clicking into and not have to face the same with their business.

What happened in the next 24 hours was breathtaking. The response and the support from the beauty industry was just spectacular. People from all sides of the country, from 250k followers to small personal accounts, shared the story. Within 24 hours the page was restored to 26k followers and up another 10k on what I’d had in the first place to a whopping 36k by Friday evening. The cry for help from one business and one very distraught business owner was answered by the vast online Irish community.

The only way to describe it was that I felt like someone had come in and torched my business to the ground one day, and the next day the community came together and built it back up even better than before. It has been the most humbling experience in my near twenty years in the beauty industry, a beautifully positive result from an extremely scary experience.

It still does not discredit the fact that a page of 26k followers, built gradually over 8 years, was completely erased in a couple of minutes, completely taking Nima Brush’s identity and all the content I had created with it. I feel I have to share this information, to alert other small businesses to be careful. I would like to think after years in e-retail I would be pretty tech-savvy and spot a snake a mile away, but I was duped so easily. Ensure you have ‘two step authentication’ set up on social media and regularly change passwords. Be so careful about what you click through. How a small business can be essentially shut down within minutes is terrifying, so be careful.

Follow Nima Brush on Instagram at @nimabrush_official.