American Insurance

Email scams that target small business

by John B. Sullivan, Chairman on Apr 3, 2019

How I Locked Up My Computer Network

As published in our Spring 2019 newsletter

I fell victim to a ransomware email scam in 2015 and want to share my story so you won’t make my mistake.

Here’s how it happened to me…

Like most small business owners, I was working after hours. I was reviewing recent emails I had received from applicants for a job opening I had posted. One of the emails said “Job Application” in the subject line and in the email body it just said “Attached is my resume.” At the time I thought it was strangely brief but it had a Word document attached.

So, during one thoughtless busy moment, I clicked on the attachment and it opened with an error message that said to click on a corrective link to see the message. I clicked on the link but the message never loaded up so I closed the email and went on to other things.

The next day, our local internal network started having problems. We alerted our IT resource who investigated to find that our network had been infected by a ransomware virus that was encrypting our files. Then came the ransom email that read “pay us $1,000 and we will provide the encryption key to unlock your files.” Loss of data could be devastating to any small business. In our case, only our local administrative files were locked up - no customer account data was affected which is cloud based. We didn’t pay the ransom but lost some time and money restoring our network with our own backup.

Did I feel dumb? YEP! Stay alert as email scams are constantly changing including emails that are addressed directly by name to you or a staff member. There are literally billions of cyber “hooks” floating through the internet space. Small fish (small employers) are the most vulnerable to get caught – especially by various email scams.

FREE REPORT: Contact us to request the 2019 Cyber Claims Digest, an analysis of 2018 Cyber Claims Data from NAS Insurance. To protect your business data, customer information and your operations from cyber crime you may want to consider Cyber Insurance. For more info or a quotation talk with your American Insurance agent.


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