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LAKE WYLIE --
Despite what you may have received in your email, Susan Bromfield, president of the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce, wants everyone to know she is safe and sound in Lake Wylie.
Early Tuesday morning an email was sent under her name with the subject line Sad news. The email said the Bromfields were on an impromptu trip to Manila, Philippines, and had misplaced a wallet containing all the valuables we had. The email asked readers for a loan of $1,850, allowing her to sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home.
The email was sent by someone who hacked her computer which contained information from chamber members, or those who have had dealings with the chamber.
Bromfield estimated as many as 1,800 contacts were taken, as well as an untold number of emails sent and received.
I was a little shocked to see they could access all that information, she said. Bromfield said it was bothersome to have someone use your name in a message of despair.
Its just upsetting, she said.
Bromfield learned of the hacking from an email received by a neighbor. Early Tuesday morning, a neighbor started banging on her sliding glass door, holding an iPad with the email. The neighbor responded to the email and was given instructions where to wire the funds.
Several people called the Lake Wylie chamber offering assistance and a few even came by the office to offer money, Bromfield said.
The chamber sent out an email reporting that Broomfield was safe and not to send funds.
Bromfield said she doesnt know when her system was compromised. It could have happened a couple of days ago when her computer operations were slow and her computers were knocked off the Internet several times, she said.
Plan for the worst
Csilla Farkas, a professor in the school of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Carolina, said once information is hacked and disclosed theres no way to get it back from the hacker.
Farkas said the attack Bromfield experienced is not uncommon. Many people think it wont happen to them. While some regard a computer as a sophisticated mailbox, it is a mailbox with a lots of sensitive information that needs protection, Farkas said.
Farkas said people need to plan for the worst, and hope for the best with computer security.
Computer security essentials include making sure a computers operating system, and any applications and programs, are periodically updated with the latest changes to protect against malicious viruses.
Computers can be configured to have updates occur automatically, she said.
Farkas also said backing up files is essential. Usually backups for operating systems or programs can be obtained by the manufacturer. Data is the one area where the user must back up files. These back-up files should also be kept in a separate location from the computer, she said.
Security programs should be updated daily, she said.
For sensitive data, Farkas encourages encryption of the data or the files containing the data.
One option is to encrypt the data but keep the encryption key separate from the computer system. The option requires the key be used every time to open the encrypted data, Farkas said.
Another option is to download sensitive data and store it on a computer disc or USB drive. This option keeps the information off the computer, but requires the user to keep track of where the data is stored.
Farkas also said people who are hacked should check with local law enforcement to see if the states cybercrime laws apply.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066