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Multiple restaurants in Cincinnati are fighting cyber hackers who have stolen thousands of dollars, damaged reputations and shut down social media sites.
“When it happened, it was instant panic,” said Arnold’s owner Chris Breeden. “Facebook is basically the most important advertising tool we have in our tool bag, and it’s pretty devastating when you lose something like that.”
Breeden said the thieves hacked into one of their social media accounts and then got into their Facebook site. Once there, they were able to tap into bank accounts associated with Arnold’s Facebook.
The thieves bought ads, turning money from bank accounts into Facebook advertising currency to be used in other countries.
To ensure Arnold’s couldn’t get back into their social media accounts, the hackers posted severely inappropriate material that got Arnold’s account banned for life.
“I’m like super banned. I couldn’t be more banned since they posted explicit material. It triggers an auto ban. So, that auto ban hit me. Then, it blocked me from getting my business page, then it blocked my personal Instagram and Arnold’s business into Instagram. So, we have been completely shut out of all social media,” Breeden said.
Crown Restaurant Group reported similar attacks at four of their restaurants.
In recent months, Thomas More University was locked out of its Facebook account.
“I think it’s increasingly common,” said cybersecurity expert with Intrust I.T Dave Hatter. “Your account’s taken over, you’ve lost all those followers, you’ve got to try to rebuild that, and just the time and money it costs to recover from something like this.”
Hatter said it should be a wake-up call for other small businesses to strengthen passwords and take cyber security seriously.
Fixing the problem can take months or longer if it can be fixed at all.
“You can’t just pick up the phone and call someone and say, ‘Hey, I’m restaurant XYZ, can you unlock my account for me?’ It just doesn’t work that way,” Hatter said.
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