3 On Your Side

College student says she was hacked and 'held hostage'

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Kristen O'Neall says her life her has been taken over. And, it all started when someone hacked her smartphone. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Kristen O'Neall says her life her has been taken over. And, it all started when someone hacked her smartphone. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Smartphones are something most of us use for just about everything these days. Many people store all kinds private and personal information as well. But just because you have a password on your smartphone doesn’t mean it’s secure. 

“It's so terrifying to know that somewhere out there, someone can see everything and I can't stop it.”

Kristen O'Neall says her life her has been taken over. And, it all started when someone hacked her smartphone.

“When I tell my mom, 'my whole life is like on my phone,' she's like 'no it's not,' I'm like, 'it really is'. Like everything I do is on it."

O’Neall attends Northern Arizona University and like a lot of people, and college students for that matter, she keeps a lot of her private information on her phone.

And why wouldn't she? Passwords, along with fingerprint and facial recognition these days, make hacking your device basically bulletproof, right? At least, that's what O’Neall thought.

“I thought I was super smart and I put all my passwords in my notes, so not only was all of my information in there, information like my Social Security number, like I kept it locked in my phone.”

But O’Neall has learned phones can and will be hacked into by complete strangers. She found that out when she recently used her smartphone to log on to her Snapchat account, but couldn't.

Time after time, O’Neall says she kept being denied access. 

“I put in my phone number, and it didn't recognize my phone number and I started hysterically crying and I was like everything is in my snapchat, everything!”

O’Neall soon realized someone had actually taken over her Snapchat account and blocked her from logging in. And, it would get a lot worse. This college student learned someone also took over her Instagram account and even tried to access her Twitter and Facebook accounts, but failed.

O’Neall says she felt violated and helpless. All her private and intimate information was available to a complete stranger and she has no idea how it happened.

So, she went to her cell phone provider for help, but they simply told her what she already suspected.

“And that's when they told me that someone hacked into my iCloud account and got into my notes and my snapchat password was in there, my bank, my social, everything.”

O’Neall bought a new phone entirely and established a new Apple ID. She also called Apple to if they could retrieve her accounts that had been stolen by the hacker. But they couldn't, and by now the damage was already done.

“They already had my pictures, they had my messages, they had my location, my friends' locations, my facetimes, everything.”

And if you think it couldn't get any more personal, it did. The hacker actually made contact with O’Neall through an email demanding access to something on Snapchat called "My Eyes Only," an ultra-secure area where a person's most sensitive and private photographs and videos can be kept.

“The scariest part is, there's a snapchat feature called My Eyes Only and it requires a four-digit passcode and it's just things you want to save, for your eyes only. You don't want anyone to see.”
 
In the email, the hacker told O’Neall:


"My Eyes Only code and you will get your snapchat back. Just make this easy. I've already been through your iCloud anyways."

O’Neall says, of course, she didn't respond. However, knowing that a complete stranger has access to her personal and private information, leaves her feeling defenseless. 

“Every night I try I just try to go to sleep and I'm like someone has every aspect of every day. Like they could look up any day that I lived and know exactly what I was doing, like personal things that I don't want anyone to see and it's gone.” 

3 On Your Side was able to get Snapchat to look into the matter and restore her account. However, the hacker is still in some of her other accounts, like her Yahoo email. 

O’Neall says she hope her story serves as a warning to others. 

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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LiAna EnriquezLiAna Enriquez is a native of Arizona. She attended Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona.

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LiAna Enriquez

She then went on to Arizona State University. She graduated summa cum laude from the University’s prestigious, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.

LiAna started her news career with KTVK-TV as an intern. She loved it so much she never left! She has been with the station for fourteen years. Currently, she is the consumer investigative producer for Arizona’s top rated consumer segment, 3 On Your Side and is also a general assignment reporter. LiAna also reported for the station’s top rated high school sports show, ‘The Varsity Zone’ for five years.

In her free time LiAna enjoys cooking, watching movies, quading, and traveling. But her absolute favorite thing to do, is to hang out with her husband and beautiful daughters. She is a softball mom. She loves the beach and waterfalls! Her favorite team is the Arizona Cardinals and of course, the Sun Devils.

Life motto: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

If you have a story idea for LiAna, Send her an email .

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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