Why protecting your side hustle online is more important than ever

In partnership with Norton

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“A lot of people went on to block me, for fear of being hacked themselves”

Lucy Gornall is one of many young Brits with a side hustle. After working as a health editor for women’s magazines, she decided to become a freelance journalist and pursue her passion: personal fitness. 

She eventually started training to become a personal trainer, earning a qualification as a level 3 PT. She soon discovered just how much power was in the palm of her hands. Social media helped her create and nurture new connections, allowing her small business to grow and reach thousands of followers on Instagram – some of whom became her work contacts.

Then, as her side hustle was taking off her account was hacked. 

She explained, “I was sent a message from a friend asking for help. She needed a code to get into her Facebook…so I sent her my number, received the code by text and sent her the code.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a friend in need. Instead, it was an anonymous hacker who booted her out of her own account. Without her knowledge, her peers, followers and clients were suddenly inundated with messages from the hacker posing as her, “asking for help or for money,” and attempting to break into their accounts the very same way. 

She said the whole ordeal was embarrassing, and she was flooded with calls and WhatsApps from people for days about the hack. It also had real consequences for her business. She said, “A lot of people went on to block me, for fear of being hacked themselves. I didn’t lose money, but had it gone on longer I may have done.”

“I was so anxious, worrying that the hacker would get into the rest of my phone, my banking apps and photos,” she said.

According to research conducted last year, over 70% of young Brits like Gornall said they had a job on the side. With the internet making it easier than ever to start a business and pursue passion projects, social media has become crucial for promoting a side hustle. Nearly half of Brits (48%) have been victims of cybercrime, and nearly three in ten (29%) report experiencing identity theft, according to the Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report 2022***.

Now, Gornall wishes she had done more to proactively protect her account and had been aware of identity protection solutions, such as social media monitoring. As cyber threats have evolved, so have the solutions to address potential issues impacting people despite their best efforts. Norton Identity Advisor Plus notifies the registered user if there is any suspicious activity linked to their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube account, even notifying them should there be an unexpected change to their account settings**

Unfortunately, personal information accessed by cybercriminals may result in identity theft. A hack or data breach could lead, for example, to a loan being taken out in your name, which could impact your life and potentially your credit score. Sixty-six percent of Brits surveyed admit they don’t know how to check if their identity has ever been stolen***. One part of the solution is Dark Web Monitoring so the information you provide can be scanned for on the dark web and you can be notified if your information is found so you can take action.

Gornall explained she now has a new perspective on device and online privacy “having experienced the worry of my bank accounts being hacked,” and the fear that her hacker would spread her personal information online.

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Fifty-five percent of Brits surveyed admit they would have no idea what to do if their identity was stolen***. As part of the Norton Identity Advisor Plus plan, should you experience identity theft, a dedicated Identity Restoration Specialist is assigned to a case of identity theft from start to finish to help the victim resolve their identity theft issue. Whether this is with credit card companies, financial institutions, collection agencies, government agencies or other parties, an Identity Restoration Specialist can even make three-way mediation calls.

Gornell did not previously consider an identity monitoring solution, as she branched out with her side hustle. The journalist and personal trainer discovered it was a lengthy process trying to recover her hacked account, which included her having to send off a face verification video and waiting days to finally be let back into her account and alert her clients and contacts that she had not asked for money or aid, which had proved embarrassing. 

In fact, she said there was no way for her to directly contact someone from the social platform at the point she felt most vulnerable, and said, “The lack of communication is awful.”

UK consumers can now access newly available Norton Identity Advisor Plus, which leverages the company’s consumer identity protection expertise to help victims of identity theft resolve their issues*. In fact, Gornall said, “If I had signed up sooner, I may have been more aware of a potential scam.” “It might have made me think twice about replying,” she reflected. 

Marie Claire readers can purchase Norton Identity Advisor Plus through Norton here.

*No one can prevent all cybercrime or all identity theft. 

**Social Media Monitoring is only available for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Takeover risk is available across these platforms, while inappropriate content monitoring is available for Twitter and YouTube. Does not include monitoring of chats or direct messages. 

***About the 2022 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report 

The research was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of NortonLifeLock among 10,003 adults aged 18+. The survey was conducted November 15 through December 7, 2021 in Australia (n=1002), Brazil (n=1000), France (n=1001), Germany (n=1000), India (n=1000), Italy (n=1000), Japan (n=1000), New Zealand (n=1000), the United Kingdom (n=1000), and the United States (n=1000).Data are weighted where necessary by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, marital status, household size, and household income to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Megan C. Hills

Megan is a freelance journalist who covers entertainment and all things lifestyle, with a particular passion for fashion, beauty, travel and Keanu Reeves stories. She has previously worked on staff for titles including Marie Claire UK, CNN Style and The Evening Standard and has written for titles such as Bustle UK, Wallpaper*, Forbes and Hong Kong Tatler. She splits her time between London and her hometown Hong Kong, where she currently lives with the love of her life - an elderly dog named Poppy - and her husband.