Fredericton — It’s been about two weeks since hackers gained control of the Fredericton Tourism Instagram page, delighting city residents over an entire weekend with the fresh content posted there.
Hackers wanted a ransom of $2,500 for the account’s safe return. When the city didn’t pay up right away, the hackers posted a video of two women kissing using the Stories feature.
“The content was much more interesting for everyone,” said one downtown Fredericton resident, James Monteith. “A video of two girls kissing? Come on, that was pretty cool. Now it’s back to paddleboards, the trail system, taprooms and the Boyce market. I’ve only lived here like two years and I’m beyond sick of hearing about those four things.”
“We never did find out whether it was one hacker or a group of cybercriminals — all we know is, that Insta was way better when criminals had control over it,” Jessie Benson of Nashwaaksis. “I unfollowed Fredericton Tourism once they got it back.”
Hackers eventually started contacting page followers, offering to sell them the account for $400.
“It’s kind of a sick burn that they went from $2,500 to $400 overnight, and still no one bit,” said Devon dweller Mary-Ann Olsen, who was contacted by the criminal(s). “I would have paid $400 for the hackers to keep posting their own content to the page and never give it back to Tourism. That offer wasn’t on the table, though.”
Fredericton Tourism employs cybersecurity firm Beauceron Security to train employees in not clicking sketchy links.
“That’s literally the entirety of what Beauceron offers — just telling you not to click on shit that any idiot would know not to click on — but obviously, their one lesson didn’t take,” said Sharon Randall of Tourism Fredericton. “I really wanted someone to blame for the whole thing, and it sure as heck wasn’t gonna be one of the longstanding employees here, so we kind of pushed the responsibility onto an intern. Young people can handle that kind of thing better. For me, though, it was absolutely an exhausting weekend. I didn’t have to do anything, but still. I’m actually still exhausted just talking about it.”
Most Fredericton residents hope something similarly exciting happens again soon.
“That was super entertaining,” said Kyle Anderson of Marysville. “I’m not a big ‘Insta’ guy but the drama of that was better than anything I’ve seen in a while. I checked the Tourism page the other day and was extremely upset by the content that was on the site — it was just a lame-ass picture of flowers and another post about the walking bridge or something. So boring.”