The last year has seen a raft of business giants fall victim to hacked websites. From TalkTalk to Yahoo, details of these high-profile incidents were splurged across front pages of newspapers and news sites for all the world to see, doing these companies financial damage – and in some cases irreparable reputational harm within their customer bases.
But what of the hacked websites you didn’t read about? Cyber-attacks were reported to have cost UK companies £30bn in 2016 – and not all of these stories hit the headlines. Here are some cautionary tales from across the globe that didn’t get quite so many column inches as others, but are just as – if not more – shocking.
Grim news from up north
Leeds is a great place to have a business right now, as SMEs in the city benefit from an £8.5m injection through a support programme investing in their digital technologies and skills. However not long ago, the state of affairs was far less inspiring. A study carried out early this year found that nearly two-thirds of businesses in the city had been targeted by hackers during 2016. The incidents cost the local economy £57 million in total, and were believed to equate to five to seven days of downtime.
For many businesses it was simple phishing emails that had done the damage. Additionally, forty percent of the companies didn’t have a firewall (nearly double the 22% who admitted the same in 2013) while just over half didn’t change old passwords. Breaches can go unnoticed for months too. Contact us, and we’ll do a check of your hacked website for free.
Supposed terrorists rear their ugly heads – again
Two years ago, many businesses in the UK and US found their websites compromised in one fell swoop. The culprits? Islamic State – apparently. The logo of the militant group appeared on the company homepages alongside the message “Hacked by Islamic State (Isis). We are everywhere.” There was seemingly no rhyme or reason to the businesses they targeted, which included a hotel, a brewery, a not-for-profit organisation – and even a zoo.
Then in 2016, on the other side of the world in Australia, more than 20 small businesses had their websites defaced – again by a group purporting to be Islamic State. The offenders, which called themselves the United Cyber Caliphate, left an ominous message on the sites of a tyre retailer, herbalist, and Mexican food company.
Experts are unconvinced that the criminals actually did act as part of the notorious militant group. However the businesses still had to go through the tiresome, time-consuming and sometimes expensive processes of informing customers and finding fixes.
Embarrassment for Aussie Minister
In Australian news again, in August 2016, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack was busy dealing with the aftermath of an Australian Bureau of Statistics site crashing, when his own website was defaced, and decorated with a new hyperlink which directed customers to a Polish finance company’s site.
A monster breach
A number of random small businesses experienced hacked websites earlier this year. Their connection? They were all held on the same web-hosting server. A group calling themselves the National Hackers Agency defaced 605 sites on the server run by UK domain hosting firm DomainMonster.
The wrongdoers posted a message on the sites saying the doom-mongering words, “NO SYSTEM IS SAFE. We do not forget.. We do not forgive… Expect us.”
The hacked websites were defaced for at least 24 hours. Contact OneHourSiteFix if you have a hacked website, and we pledge to fix it in an hour.
Left in the dark
Finally, a dip into the Dark Web – usually condemned as a place of criminality where disturbing deals are carried out in an encrypted network. Earlier this year, around 20% of sites on the Dark Web were taken offline following a hacked website, and the perpetrator published details of the site administrators. While this may at first seem like the action of a vigilante – and this may have been the intention – the outcome is more complicated. It’s true that a lot of illegal and unpleasant activity happens within this network, but it’s also a place where journalists can uncover secrets, and where activists who are fighting despotic regimes can communicate.
The world of cybercrime can be a murky place indeed, and one that is affecting small businesses everywhere. In fact, a 2016 Government Security Breaches Survey released last year found that nearly three quarters of small organisations had reported a hacked website. And when the average cost of a cyber-breach for small business is £75,000 to £100,000, it’s best to ensure you stay out of trouble altogether.
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