Facebook hack stalls dog rescue work

An Ottawa charity says it fears for the future of its rescue dogs after its Facebook page was hacked.

Sit With Me Rescue says it can no longer fundraise or foster dogs without access to its page

Two board members from Sit With Me Rescue look at their charity's locked Facebook page. (Jennifer Chevalier/CBC News)

An Ottawa charity says it fears for the future of the dogs it rescues after its Facebook page was hacked.

Sit With Me Rescue has more than 15,000 followers on Facebook. On May 14 its account was hacked and members of the charity were no longer able to access the page to post updates and advertise events.

"The majority of our adopters find our dogs on Facebook," says Ashley Ladouceur, a founding member of the charity.

Ladouceur says the charity rescues between five and ten dogs a week and places them in foster and adoptive homes. A lot of their work is done through their Facebook page.

"At the shelter at the moment I know there are fifteen dogs waiting," Ladouceur says.

Ashley McLellan rescued her two dogs, Nigel and Remi, through Sit With Me Rescue. She says she drove three hours to adopt Remi. "It was probably the best decision I ever made," she says. (Jennifer Chevalier/CBC News)

Hacking attempts common

The hacker was able to take control of the Sit With Me Rescue Facebook page by first hacking the personal account of one of the board members.

Once in, the hacker removed all the other board members who had admin access to the page.

Because the board member who was hacked also had her email account compromised, she has not been able to recover her account.

The hacker has not asked for ransom, and Sit With Me Rescue has reported the hack to Facebook.

This kind of hacking attempt is extremely common, according to Ottawa-based tech expert Mark Nunnikhoven, Vice President of Cloud Research at Trend Micro.

"What is standard is a hacker will take over the account and change all the contact information to their own so you can't get the account back from them," he says.

Preventing hack attacks

According to Nunnikhoven, there are ways to prevent this kind of attack from happening. He recommends setting up two-step authentication on Facebook accounts, and using the trusted friend feature.

A dog who found his home through the local Ottawa charity. (Sit With Me Rescue)

"The challenge for this charity is those measures only work in advance," Nunnikhoven says.

For Sit With Me Rescue, they will have to wait for Facebook to manually recover the account.

"It's not instant but there is always a really good success rate," Nunnikhoven says.

Facebook has confirmed to CBC News they are investigating the hack.