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Small businesses are a big target for hackers

And when they get hit, so do shoppers.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Stressed Businessman Sitting In Office With Computer Screen Showing Personal Files Encrypted Text

CLEVELAND — In 2017 there was a cyber attack of global proportions. 

Someone sent out a virus called “Wanna Cry” that infected at least 150 entities, including Russian banks and government offices, universities in China, and FedEx in the U.S.

If giants like these can get infected, small businesses are just sitting ducks.

James Ullery's digital sign company got hit with Ransomware. A screen popped up on his computers, saying his files were being held hostage unless he paid the hackers with Bitcoin currency, which can't be tracked.

So Ullery gave in to get a code to unlock his files.

"$500 we felt was far less expensive than the inconvenience of losing your data," he said.

It's estimated that about 60 percent of cyber attacks hit small businesses, which is why the Global Cyber Alliance and MasterCard teamed up to launch a free cyber security tool kit.

Ron Green, Chief Information Security Officer for MasterCard says, "For a lot of small businesses, the cost of securing things might be prohibitive to them. They don't have a team of people monitoring their systems. Even though they're free, we raise the security level of your company."

Businesses can download applications to help them with things like updating their operating systems, preventing viruses and phishing scams, even protecting them from Ransomware, which isn't going away according to Stu Sjouwerman, founder and CEO of cyber security company KnowBe4.

“They're making boatloads of money. This is a very successful criminal business model,” he said.

And it’s a business model that ultimately affects customers who expect their information to be kept safe. But sometimes all it takes is one employee to click an infected link.

"If you're not providing the right level of security for those things, you introduce risk to that consumer in that transaction,” Green said.

Ullery now backs up his computers weekly, but knows that without the right protection he could get him again.

"It makes you feel somewhat violated,” he said. “Like somebody snuck into your business and took something that belonged to you."

While the cyber security tool kit was developed for small businesses, it also has useful tips for consumers. It offers different downloads to protect all of your devices, as well as to block you from going to bad sites. Plus, the no-cost kit has tips for managing all of those passwords we're supposed to remember… and much more.

Find out more about the tool kit:


Here are steps to take if your identity has been stolen: