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Cyber gangs targeting small businesses

by Neal O'Farrell on August 28th, 2009

Interesting story in the Washington Post yesterday about a surge in cyber attacks on small businesses in Europe. The timing of the story connects well with a campaign I’m involved in to get U.S. small businesses to start taking security seriously or risk facing legislation that will force them.69949528x

The Post article highlighted a number of small U.S. firms that had tens of thousands of dollars siphoned from their bank accounts, and Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan pointed out a little known fact that could really impact businesses like these.

As a consumer you are generally protected by zero liability promises that will usually make good on any losses you suffer in bank account or credit card frauds, as long as you report it within 60 days from receiving you statement to dispute any transactions.

But small businesses don’t have the same protection. If you’re a small business and have a business account, you typically have only two days to dispute a transaction or illegal funds transfer, and even then you’re probably out of luck.

I’ve talked before about the small business owner in Florida who had more than $70,000 siphoned from his bank account. His bank denied any liability and the victim had to spend more than 2 years in court to finally get his money back.

For a typical small business owner that depends on one primary business account, an attack like this, which is actually very easy, could wipe out the business. One of the companies victimized said they lost $100,000 in the attack but the total cost to clear up the mess cost them nearly three times that amount.

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