October '17

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84 • RV PRO • October 2017 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S I n the latest twist on identity theft, hackers are clandestinely taking over business websites – and then bra- zenly billing the customers who visit those sites as if the sites are their own. "Unfortunately, website security is becoming a prominent issue," says Evy Hanson, owner of Leap Online Mar- keting, which offers business web hosting and web design services. "It's out of control," agrees Jeff Beyer, CEO of Big Rig Media, a web design firm that specializes in designing RV websites. "We've seen some of the largest data breaches over the last few years. It's terrible that these types of events happen so some people can profit, but in a good way these events open the eyes of how vulnerable we are and how much we rely on technology on a daily basis." Bill Wagner, director of digital mar- keting of ARI Network Services, a dig- ital marketing services provider for RV dealers, also sees website security the same way: "It seems there is a high-pro- file hack in the news every month." Hijacked Websites While any sort of website identity theft is alarming, the version that results in a hacker taking command-and-con- trol of an RV dealership's website – and ultimately a company's business dealings – is especially brutal. Under this scenario, hackers find a way to break into a company's website, and then take over all the digital interfaces a business uses to operate that web- site. Simultaneously, the hacker also gets access to the business' accounts pay- able and receivables soft- ware, as well as its email correspondence software. W i t h a l l t h e t o o l s in-hand to do business as the dealer, the hacker begins cutting deals with the dealer's customers via the company website, instructing them to wire payments for goods and ser- vices to a new bank account – one that is owned and operated by the hacker. After a few quick deals and lots of laughs, the hacker vanishes – along with all the cash that has been wired to his or her bank account. Ultimately, the victimized RV dealer- ship only finds out about the scam weeks or months later, when hordes of angry customers start calling, demanding goods and services that were never delivered. Perhaps most unsettling about this new spin on cybercrime is that even the most strongly secured websites – prop- erties that are maintained by technolog- ically sophisticated global corporations – are vulnerable. In fact, more than 75 percent of pop- ular sites on the Internet have unpatched vulnerabilities, according to an April 2016 study from Symantec, an IT secu- rity firm. And all told, online fraud – including website identity theft – is rapidly esca- lating. Long term, it's expected to grow from $10.7 billion in 2015 to $25.6 bil- lion by 2020, according to a 2016 study by Juniper Research. While few websites are completely impenetrable against a determined hacker, security experts say every busi- ness at least needs to give itself a fighting chance against criminals looking to hijack its web identity. Preventative Measures Here are what web security experts say dealers should do to ensure their dealer- ship is not perceived by thieves as being especially vulnerable: • Bullet-proof the website's dash- board. The website's dashboard A new spin on cybercrime has criminals commandeering business websites to defraud those businesses. Now more than ever, it's important that RV businesses take steps to protect themselves from this and other Internet threats. The Digital Imposter By Joe Dysart Beyer

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