BLK+BRWN bookstore turns pages after being hacked

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cori Smith, owner of BLK+BRWN bookstore in Kansas City, Missouri, who focused on amplifying the voices of “black and brown storytelling,” is now rewriting her story after his company was hacked almost a month ago.

“Books, book corners, contact information, all my email subscriptions and client lists…had been compromised,” Smith said.

Pages were ripped from his book after hackers altered emails, passwords and more, even demanding a $500 ransom.

“They sent an email from my personal email address to my recovery account, before deleting it and said ‘if you want your whole account back, send bitcoins,'” she said.

Smith says she was shocked by the incident, never thinking it could happen to her.

“It’s personal, you got access to my bank account, you know my address now, and it was a wake-up call for me to see how easy it is,” Smith said.

Despite the difficulties, Smith searched for a solution, eventually launching a GoFundMe Saturday to help him get back on his feet.

“Not only did they take my website, they took my income, so it’s really hard for people to admit,” Smith said.

However, with the help of the community, Smith has now surpassed his goal.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of people who supported. I think over 100 different donations and donors came in – just seeing all the support and seeing all the people sharing about this post, and the link and the news — all the encouragement has just been surreal,” Smith said.

Since his business took a hit, Smith started reading the fine print and consulting with cybersecurity experts on how to keep small businesses safe.

“Take consultations with people, whether they are cybersecurity experts, web developers, people who are in these industries, who are learning these trades, who know these techniques. It’s always important to be able to just say ‘hey, even if I’m not going with your service, what can I do to prevent things like this from happening?’ said Smith.

Now on to the next chapter, Smith hopes to continue the story for BLK + BRWN.

“For me, it’s about accessing communities and connecting them. A big part of the hotspot is again, in Kansas City, you should always be able to find black literature, and you should have access to it, and you should have a choice,” Smith said.

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