University Instagram account hacked and held ransom

Jaxon White, News Co-Editor

Cybersecurity threats loom over tech companies, medical centers and even meat packing plants as a growing issue. After this weekend, the University has become the latest victim of similar cyberattacks. 

According to University administrators, the official Instagram account for the University was hacked and held for an undisclosed ransom on Sunday. 

While in the ransomer’s possession, the regular profile picture was replaced with what appeared to be a silver Mustang logo, and the name for the account was changed to “pharabenfarway22k.” 

Also, the account’s description was changed to read, “this instagram account is held to be sold back to its owner.” 

A hyperlink was included in the description. 

Following the link led to a WhatsApp contact for an unknown user. The account’s profile picture featured actor Tom Hardy in the 2015 film “Legend” along with the quote “Sheer Class. Pure Gangster” written within the image.

Clicking on the account’s contact information revealed the account was created on Sept. 6, 2021, nearly a month before the incident. 

The Bucknellian requested a comment from the ransomers through the listed link but did not receive a response. 

Ariana Gambrell ’23, who posted about the incident online, first heard about the hacking through a friend’s social media post. 

With the name of the account being changed, Gambrell said it took her a long time to find the account. Once she found it, she said she was in shock. 

“I just couldn’t believe that was happening,” Gambrell said. “I guess what I really wondered was whether it was a [University] student who hacked the page to send a message or something to the university.” 

Mike Ferlazzo, the University’s Director of Media Relations and Communications, did not specify whether the University is aware of the ransomer’s identity and declined to specify the amount of money they were seeking. 

“With the assistance of Instagram officials, the University regained control of its Instagram account in about 48 hours,” Ferlazzo said in an emailed statement. 

“The University does not have confirmation that this issue was related to the Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram service outage,” Ferlazzo said, referring to an international blackout that affected all three platforms on Monday. 

Instagram recommends anyone that believes their account might have been hacked follow the instructions listed on their Help Center Page.

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