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How to Protect Your Small Business Against a Cyber Attack

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This story appears in the February 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Seattle hacker drove a black Mercedes. He owned a Rolex. He liked to frequent a downtown wine bar. While it's easy to think of cyber criminals as faceless, digital pickpockets in far-flung countries, the reality is that they are among us. In one notorious case, a bandit and his gang of cyber crooks compromised at least 53 Seattle-area small and medium-size businesses between 2008 and 2010, stealing enough data to cause $3 million in damages to the companies, their employees and their customers.

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"This wasn't the type of crime that we anticipated," tech-company employee Alec Fishburne said at a news conference (where the Seattle victims agreed to be identified but asked that their businesses remain anonymous). The gang hacked Fishburne's firm from another office within the high-rise building. He became aware of the breach after noticing some unusual financial transactions. "It was very disconcerting for a small company … to wonder whether there was some internal fraud or embezzlement happening," he told reporters.

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