DELL RAPIDS, S.D. – A popular South Dakota boutique is urging other small businesses to make sure they have a solid security firewall in place. A hacker targeted The Mason Jar in Dell Rapids just before the busy holiday shopping season last year. And the hacker is still returning to the scene of the cyber-crime.
Just days before Black Friday, someone hacked into The Mason Jar’s Instagram account.
“We couldn’t even find our account, they had deleted all the pictures, the followers, so it made it tough,” The Mason Jar owner Katie Luttmann said.
It turned into a case of cyber-extortion when the hacker demanded money.
“I was pretty desperate at that point because we were just a few days from Black Friday, so I think we paid him $200 through Bitcoin which basically makes it untraceable,” Luttmann said
But paying the ransom didn’t get the Instagram account back. It took the help of Dakota State University to get that restored. The Mason Jar has since hardened its security including a much longer password. So the boutique thought they had heard the last from their hacker.
“The first one, yeah, it was super-scary,” The Mason Jar customer service employee Heather Apland said.
Instead, the hacker, believed to be from Germany, began sending several emails to The Mason Jar threatening more hacks and demanding more money.
“You can tell it’s from another country because they’re kind of worded funny,” Apland said.
PERRY GROTEN: The Mason Jar is confident they have enough cyber-security measures in place to prevent another hack. But still, those emails are unnerving to the staff.
“How much does he really have access as he says he does? So yeah, it’s kind of worrisome,” Apland said.
Hackers often target small businesses because they don’t have the cyber-security budgets as bigger companies. The Mason Jar hopes other businesses will be willing to make the investment to put a lid on hackers.
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