Since 2008, I’ve had a YouTube channel. The ROXXBOISE channel has over 1200 music videos, some karaoke, and short films. Last weekend, I got hacked.
While not completely sure how it was hacked, it was either a copyright email that was sent to me that I opened because it threatened a strike on my page, or a hijacked open session, as I was uploading at the time.
The first thing I noticed, was my email program alerted me it couldn’t login. I checked my backup email, and there were notices that my password had changed on YouTube, even though I had 2-factor authentication and had not authorized it.
ENDLESS CIRCLE OF CONFUSION
I followed all instruction for recovery, but the hackers had changed my recovery email and phone number. They made the recovery email the one I had no access to, changed phone number, and changed recovery to a Google key. This Titan security key I hadn’t heard of, was what the hackers were using to access my account. I’d try to login, be sent to help pages that told me to login to recover my email. It made no sense.
Google used to have 24/7 chat support, but they don’t anymore. I tried to call a number, and am sure it was associated with another hacker promising to get me into my account.
In a panic, I reached out to Facebook. Luckily I have a friend who was able to write customer support through her account on my behalf. In the help section, she found a form that promised they would call back right away. I spoke with them and got a case ID.
WHERE TO START WITH RECOVERY
If you have another gMail/YouTube account, try to contact help. I’ve found that some things work on mobile, some things only on PC. Try them both. Try different browsers. After watching several YouTube videos from people who had also been hacked with this same Tesla Crypto video, I learned this…YouTube customer service weirdly has to be initiated through TWITTER, @teamyoutube is the username. Since Twitter is a dumpster fire at the moment, I was really nervous that this is how I had to get started.After a couple of days of messaging them through Twitter, I was finally connected to a real email from YouTube, and a case number. They wanted my contact email to be another gMail address, so first thing you want to do is create a backup account if you don’t have one.
What happened next is hours and days of communication. It would take between 1 and 10 hours to hear back from support, as I’m sure they were swamped with others needing help over this holiday weekend. I learned that this Tesla [LIVE] crypto scam has been around a couple of years, they even hacked an MMA account with 5 million subscribers. My channel had 3.4 million views, but I let the copyright owners monetize their content. All I can guess, is maybe the hackers thought I had Google Pay attached to the account, which I do not.
Google emphasized to call my bank, and call the police.
Your emails with YouTube support must be extremely thorough. At one point my backup account was mistakenly shut down as well due to some confusion on the Channel ID. If you’re a YouTube Creator, do yourself a favor and do these things right now. Take a screenshot of when your channel was created, and get the link for your CHANNEL ID. They did not want to go forward without it, and I just had my channel name. Eventually I had to find the channel ID in my browser history. It starts with http://www.youtube.com/channel/thenabunchofnumbersandletters. I had no channel screenshot, so I did a Google search of my URL. The hacker’s videos came up, as well as some of my music videos.
5 days after the hacking and some lost sleep, my accounts were both restored. Countless emails were exchanged, I was extremely kind and thankful in each reply. I do wish it had taken the hackers as long to break into it as it took for me to recover it, but the support was really great and no videos were lost. After the recovery I send another thank you email, as I’m sure it’s likely most people don’t look back at that point.
AFTER IT’S RESTORED
What DID happen, is all videos were made private. I had to change the channel name, photo, banner, and most important, the sneaky Tesla watermark they’d uploaded to appear at the end of each of my videos. After a few hours, the channel is mostly cleaned up. Private videos were made public, all 1200 of them, 50 at a time. The hackers could have deleted them instead of making them private, for that I’m very thankful. The “Home” part of my page says I have no content right now, but the “Videos” page shows all of them.
Friends have reached out with dozens of hacking stories involving emails, banks, credit unions, PayPal. It’s a really different world we live in, so use that 2FA authentication, horrible long garbled passwords, change them often, and good luck!