Facebook page for child cancer patient hacked, photos stolen

Author
Rose Stirling, Northern Advocate,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Friday, 10 August 2018, 2:18p.m.
Charlotte Powell, whose Facebook page was hacked, is battling a rare form of brain cancer. (Photo / Supplied)
Charlotte Powell, whose Facebook page was hacked, is battling a rare form of brain cancer. (Photo / Supplied)

The family of a 5-year-old girl battling a rare form of brain cancer feel like they have a new fight on their hands, after a Facebook page they set up for her was hacked.

Charlotte Powell's mother Sarah is speaking out against the hacking and wants to warn others to beef up their online security so they don't have to suffer the same stress they have.

"I find it disappointing that someone would try to essentially steal from a cancer kid. The hacker deleted 10 years' worth of personal pictures, my friends, my groups, my posts.

"They added themselves as an admin on this page (Charlie's Challenge), they added their own personal number ..."

The family from Waihue, just north of Dargaville, also want to warn others not to give money to anyone who contacts them directly as they are concerned that the hackers motives may be monetary.

"If you've received any direct contact from me asking for money or donations of any sort. That would not be me," Powell said.

NetSafe CEO Martin Cocker said that in this particular case he felt the Powells had most likely been targeted by someone wanting to cause disruption with the end goal of making money.

Cocker said it's not uncommon for hackers to steal and delete photos from people's social media accounts.

"What they'll then do is say to their victims, I'll give you back these things if you pay me a ransom."

If in the event this happened, Cocker said he would recommend people contact Netsafe.

He said they would likely recommend that they not pay over any ransom money at all.

"Most of the time when people do, they never get their photos back anyway."

The mother of four said she feels violated and is concerned the hacker may have done this to try to recreate a similar fake page to con others.

"I still don't know if he's saved my details, is recreating this page or whatever else they do."

"Furthermore, the mission to fix this has been huge, particularly as I avoid any additional stress, because currently I can't handle it.

"The process of creating new emails, sending photo ID, receiving texts at an address that doesn't receive reception and all the other malarkey has been very stressful."

Since regaining access to her account Powell said she's now no longer sure about continuing with updates on her daughter's cancer journey on her Facebook page, even though, as a writer, it had been therapeutic for her.

"I now find it a huge barrier to continue posting, knowing that this could be repeated. That this is something in this day and age that we have to factor in. For me I wonder, is it worth the hassle because of the amount of stress this has induced."

Cocker said he sympathised with the Powells' situation but said it's not uncommon. He advised everyone ensured their information is protected.

"Regularly update email address passwords, email should be your strongest password."

He also said having different passwords for different accounts online is vital.

"It's all about passwords and access control. So people should use different passwords in different places so that people can't use old stolen password databases to access those accounts."

For more information on how to keep your information safe online visit: https://www.netsafe.org.nz/advice/staying-safe/

ON AIR: Larry Williams Drive

4p.m. - 7p.m.