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It's not just the government. Foreign hackers are targeting small businesses, too.

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It's not just the government. Foreign hackers are targeting small businesses, too.

WATCH | Foreign hacks on the DNC, IRS, State Department and major corporations like Target and Sony have dominated the headlines, but cyberattacks on small businesses are on the rise and the effects can be devastating. 

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Maine Indoor Karting is targeted

Not long after Rick Snow opened his indoor go-karting business in Scarborough, Maine, he got an email that appeared to be from his bank, asking him to log in with his account information.

"As soon as I typed in and hit send, I knew something was wrong," Snow recalled. He realized he had fallen prey to a classic phishing scam. 

"I learned my lesson really quickly about phishing," he said.

Snow immediately rushed to the bank to close his business account and open a new one. Then he had to wait several weeks to get new checkbooks and credit cards. 

But that didn't stop hackers from targeting Snow's business again.

Hacked again 

Two weeks later Snow decided to check his accounts and found they were zeroed out. 

"I knew there should be about $37,000-$38,000 in the account. So I was terrified," Snow said. 

The worst part, Snow said, is that there was no help for him. 

"You contact the local police and they can’t do anything about it. The FBI, that’s nothing for them to deal with," Snow said. 

Fortunately, Snow caught on to the hackers in time to recoup his losses, but who was behind the attack and how they accessed the account is still a mystery. 

"You feel like someone went in and took your personal information and someone came into your house and took something that is very important to you," Snow said. "And because we support thirteen different families, that has a major impact on us. For all of those families, because you feel responsible for all those families that you employ, that you take care of."

More hackers are targeting small businesses 

Snow was lucky, but many other business owners like him don't recover from similar attacks.

"The sad thing is when a cyberattack takes place, within six months 60 percent, 6 out of 10 of those small businesses have gone under," said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), who chairs the House Small Business Committee.

That owner that has poured their heart and soul in to this business has their hopes dashed and employees have to find employment elsewhere.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio

In 2015, 43 percent of cyberattacks worldwide targeted small businesses, according to cybersecurity firm Symantec. 

According to a report from Verizon Enterprises, 71 percent of cyberattacks in 2012 targeted businesses with fewer than 100 employees. 

Foreign attacks 

Russian and Chinese cyberattacks on big corporations like Target and Sony and attacks on government agencies have been a major issue in recent years. But increasingly, foreign hackers are targeting small businesses, Chabot said. 

"The worst lately have been foreign attacks. That's a great concern to those business folks and their employees. It's also a national security issue," he said. 

New laws could help

Last year, Chabot helped move a bill through the House that could help small businesses combat cyberattacks.

The bipartisan Improving Small Business Cyber Security Act would direct the Small Business Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan to provide more resources and education for small business owners so they can fight, and prevent, cyberattacks. 


Help from the White House 

President Trump was expected to sign an executive order beefing up cybersecurity policies for the government this week, but the signing was canceled at the last minute. 

Although his committee has not had the chance to review the order, Chabot hopes that it will aide small businesses, too. 

"I’m optimistic that the president will put out something that’s going to be helpful. Time will tell," he said.

A lesson for other business owners

Snow testified on Capitol Hill last year, and he hopes other business owners who hear his story will learn from his experiences, and that Congress can pass legislation that offers help.

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In the meantime, Snow just wants to get back to work doing what he loves. 

"My passion is running this business running a go-cart track, not dealing with all the minutiae," he said. 

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