Dell Rapids Small Business Hit with Big-Time Hack

DELL RAPIDS, S.D. – Imagine all of your phone contacts getting wiped out at a time you need them most. Something similar is happening more and more to small businesses nationwide. Including one business owner in Dell Rapids, who enlisted the help of Dakota State University.

Katie Luttman invests a lot of time, money and staff to promote her boutique clothing business online. Over the past five years, she has grown her business along with her instagram account to more than 34,000 alone.

Customers globally want what she has. Recently, she learned, so do hackers.

“it was a week and a half before Black Friday. At 7 am I got a text from one of our marketing girls saying ‘I can’t find our Instagram, what happened?’ and of course I went into panic mode,” said Katie, “I knew once we couldn’t find it, we’d been hacked and that it was gone.”

The hackers emailed, stating that if she wanted her account and followers back, she had only hours to pay. $285 was all they wanted. She sent the money, it didn’t help.

Almost two thirds of all cyberattacks are now directed at small business and individuals. A breach can cost a business thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Upwards of 60 percent of small business go out of business within six months of an attack.

Police departments, local and otherwise say they’re doing all they can to stay ahead of hackers, but it’s tough. They recommend victims to contact them immediately to report any losses, which Katie did.

But that’s also when a new digital forensics team at Dakota State University stepped in.

Dr. Ashley Podhradsky was able to help restore Katie’s account. She then offered Katie the best possible advice to help secure all of her online accounts in the future. Two-factor authentication.

“I didn’t have it turned on because I have five different girls log into it and I thought it was a pain, looking back that was really dumb and its now on every single thing we have,” said Katie.

Digital forensics experts at Dakota State say two-factor authentication is the most important step people or business owners can take. The team also recently announced a partnership with the state attorney general’s office to fight cyber crime in South Dakota.

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