Small Business Owner Warns of $100K Scam Amid Rising Cyber Attacks

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A small business owner in South Australia’s southeast is urging fellow entrepreneurs to prioritise better password management following a close encounter with a cyber attack.

Daniel James, the owner of South East Marine and Motorcycles, uncovered his hacked email account when a customer received a suspicious email and calls demanding boat payment.

“I think that most business owners should be aware — a lot more — of your security in your systems and making sure that you have good passwords,” Mr James said.

The scammer guessed the business’s email password and changed the boat’s sales order, swapping the legitimate bank details for their own. They posed as the Naracoorte business and swiftly issued an updated invoice with the modified banking information.

Fortunately, the customer acted quickly and informed Mr James, preventing a loss of over $100,000. Realising the severity of the incident, Mr James has strengthened security measures, including implementing a dedicated password management program.

The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) surveyed industry leaders and discovered that 44% of Australian small businesses experienced cyber-attacks. To address this growing threat, COSBOA received $23 million in funding from the recent federal budget to support the Cyber Wardens online course, offering vital cybersecurity knowledge to small businesses.

Luke Achterstraat, the CEO of COSBOA, emphasised the significance of cyber attacks for small businesses, which often need more resources and time to ensure robust computer security. 

“There are very many businesses we’re aware of where it can be a business-ending incident, so we’re trying to raise the awareness of that so people understand it’s worth taking the time understanding your obligations and getting some of those practical tips that Cyber Wardens is all about as to make yourself cyber-aware,” Achterstraat said.

As cyber-attacks can have severe consequences, potentially even leading to business closure, COSBOA aims to raise awareness about cybersecurity’s importance for small businesses.

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