September 18, 2014

Hackers Really do Love Small Businesses

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Information Week recently ran an interesting cover article about the hacker economy. Hacking is no longer a teenager hobby sport. It’s organized crime. Lots of money is at stake. According to the article, the market for stolen identities has reached $1 Billion (citing statistics from IDC). Talk about a trend.

In one of our recent Small Business Trends Radio programs, my guest, Tom Raef of eBased Security, pointed out that small businesses are often the target of these hacking criminal gangs. Some of the points he covered in the show include:

  • What hackers want. A hacker’s ultimate goal is to gain control of your system and possess the ability to be able to perform their desired tasks in stealth mode.
  • Why? The bottom line is money. They earn their income by sending spam from your computer which conceals their identity and they record keystrokes to acquire passwords and credit card numbers.
  • What do they do with the information? Brace yourself. The information that is gained by controlling your system is likely to be sold. The hackers will post credit card numbers for free. Others use these numbers, verify their authenticity, and comment. Once this is done, the hacker’s value increases as the information he is selling is proved legitimate.

And there’s a lot more in the show. One of the helpful points he explains is a simple technique you can perform to check your computer system to see if it is being improperly accessed by someone through a backdoor somewhere. For solo business owners or very small businesses with no in-house IT support, you may have to perform this kind of check on your own to troubleshoot and nip problems in the bud.

Go here to learn about and listen to: Why Hackers Love Small Businesses.

5 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

5 Reactions

  1. This was a very good show, indeed. It’s a wake up call for small business owners and Tom provides a very insightful look into the world of hackers as well as a very useful tip for discovering whether or not you’ve been hacked.

  2. It’s really convenient for hackers to attack small businesses because, as you mentioned, they often lack IT departments/security budgets compared to large enterprises. Without an IT department, SMB owners may not be aware of all the risks/security holes, therefore leaving their assets open for attack.
    Also, I think a lot of small businesses underestimate the value of their information, assuming hackers only go after established firms.

  3. J. H. Shewmaker

    Anita,

    This is one of those examples of the media distorting a industry insider term. A “hack” is a piecemeal patch to a computer bug. In the late 1970s and early 80s many computer hobbyists used the BASIC language “poke” command to add assembly language patches when a program was “buggy.”

    Hobbyists used the verb “crack” to refer to someone who attempted to break into a secure computer or network. “Hack” was used as a verb to refer to experimenting with coding to try to create a “patch” for faulty coding or to temporarily solve a problem before re-compiling in a compiler language.

    Computer illiterate reporters and editors started mis-using the word “hack” when they meant “crack.” And now most people think that a hacker is a cracker. The fact is that a hacker is a programmer.

    Verification Links:
    http://www.adrc.net/data-dictionary/h.htm
    http://www.angelfire.com/anime3/internet/programming.htm
    http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=hack

    Wikipedia attempts to give a balanced presentation of the use of this word, however the article clearly demonstrates that the alteration of the word came from the realm of the less informed.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_definition_controversy

    Many people think that it is acceptable to “perpetuate stereotypes,” but I am not one of them. And for the same reasons that I believe that it is wrong to perpetuate a stereotype I also believe that it is wrong to perpetuate the mistakes of the illiterate.

  4. Thanks, JH, for bringing up this issue.

    While I realize that using the word “hacker” to describe criminals may seem offensive to some legitimate hackers — still, I am using the word in what has now become the commonly understoood definition.

    I write for non-technical business people, and right or wrong, that is how most non-techies understand the word hacker. If I used the word “cracker” most people would not have a clue what I meant.

    Best,
    Anita

  5. JH: You took the words out of my mouth ;)

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