RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The huge data breaches at Uber, Equifax and Yahoo grab all the headlines – but there are a lot of data breaches that don’t make the news.
Breaches involving small businesses are on the rise, experts say.
The North Carolina’s Attorney General’s office tells CBS North Carolina small businesses are not only becoming more and more frequent victims of cyber-attacks, but many small business owners aren’t even aware their systems were breached.
Local business owners attended a cyber security seminar in Morrisville where they learned just how serious the problem is from both the CEO of a local IT company and an attorney with the state Department of Justice.
“They’re not just targeting big companies, they’re targeting small companies, anywhere where they can to get information,” said DOJ Attorney Hugh Harris.
And many times that information is stolen well before anyone realizes its missing.
“Nine times out of ten, small businesses don’t know they’ve been hacked when they have been hacked,” says Rob Downs, who is the CEO of Managed IT Solutions.
Downs say hackers are targeting small businesses more frequently for one simple reason.
“Mainly, it’s because they are easy targets,” he said. “Most don’t believe they are a target, so they don’t take the preventative steps they need to do to make themselves less of a target,” said Downs.
As a result, millions of North Carolinians have been impacted.
To date this year, 886 businesses have reported security breaches to the attorney general’s office, affecting almost 5 million state residents.
Last year, the attorney general’s office logged 856 security breaches affecting 7 million state residents.
So, what happens if your data is stolen from a business? State law says it can’t be kept secret.
“The statute requires you give notice if there’s a security breach, notifying consumers and the North Carolina Department of Justice to let us know what’s going on.’’ said Harris.
Seminar attendees were told one out five small businesses in this state will suffer a data breach this year using a well-known hacker technique.
“The biggest trend right now is phishing scams, where someone pretends to be someone else,” said Harris.
Although you as a consumer depend on a business to protect your data, experts say you shouldn’t don’t leave all the security in their hands.
Those experts say you should never use the same password on multiple websites, because if the hackers get it from one company they can use it elsewhere to also steal your data.Other ResourcesWhat a business owner needs to do if a security breach occurs.What to do if you are the victim of a security breach