WOLFBITES - Issue 34

When online marketing help has nothing to do with web content, SEO, internet advertising or social media

Russian hacker sending Phishing email, presented by Toronto copywriter Wolfgang Franke, who is also President of Words at Work, a leader among Toronto ad agencies specializing in advertising for small business owners needing social media marketing, web marketing and video marketing.
Hello. I just used a Phishing email to get
control of your website.
You can have it back. For a price.

For the average small business, online marketing help means some combination of three basic services: design, build and maintain my website, create and monitor my internet advertising campaigns, manage my social media.

But there are moments when none of that is important.  You don't care about web page design, Facebook likes or Google Adword conversions. You want just one thing from your Toronto advertising agency: instant expert support when Russian Hackers attack and you are just one click away from losing control of your website and not getting it back until you pay a fat ransom. 

You are likely already aware of this scam, known formally as Email Phishing (Hello, I am a Nigerian Prince.  I need to transfer $50 million dollars to a bank and will give you $25 million if I could make the transfer with your bank account!). You may even think you are too sophisticated to be sucked in by Email Phishing.  Or that malicious emails will be blocked by anti phishing software. Think again. There is no such thing as 100% phishing protection. Anyone can be phished (including senior aides to former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton).        

I know because in the last six months two of our long-term advertising and marketing clients, with revenue generating websites, were targeted by hackers. One was a relatively large business with about 100 employees, an IT support team and a savvy, web-aware management group. The other was a much smaller business run by an owner/operator with no IT team.    

Guess who got hacked?   It was the larger client, or more precisely, it was an employee with good intentions who pressed the fatal link. The smaller client did the right thing:  he called us and asked for help. We looked at the email, which on the surface appeared to be a request for a domain renewal.   We then did something the client did not do: we looked at the web address for one of the links and found, buried in the middle, the letters "ru". Meant nothing to our client, but to us it meant the email was from Russia, and that meant it was almost certainly coming from Russian hackers. The offending email was safely deleted, but everything would have been different if the client had clicked instead of calling.

Five ways to protect your small business from email phishing scams

  1. Assume that you (or your employees) are going to get phishing emails, some of which look completely authentic.  
  2. Never guess about the legitimacy of an email.  If there is any doubt, consult with your in-house online marketing expert or contact your internet marketing partner.
  3. Train all employees to be wary of any unsolicited email that requests an action related to your website.
  4. Establish a company-wide policy that only one person, with online web marketing experience, has authority to manage your online presence.
  5. Hire a new web marketing partner if your existing supplier does not provide phishing protection 24/7.    


Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.




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Prices: less than you would expect.   Results: more than you can imagine
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Words at Work Advertising & Marketing Inc.
19 Lockridge Avenue, Unionville, Ontario, Canada L3R 7S6
Telephone: 905-940-6610     Toll-Free Outside Toronto: 1-877-940-6610

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