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BLK + BRWN bookstore turns pages after being hacked

Cori Smith BLK + BRWN Bookstore Owner
Posted at 6:18 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 19:26:17-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cori Smith, owner of BLK + BRWN bookstore in Kansas City, Missouri, focused on amplifying the voices of "Black and Brown storytelling," is now rewriting her story after her business was hacked nearly a month ago.

"Books, book nooks, contact information, all of my email subscriptions and lists to customers ... had been compromised,” Smith said.

Pages were torn out of her book after hackers changed emails, passwords and more - even requesting a ransom of $500 dollars.

“They sent an email from my personal email address, to my recovery account, before they removed it and said 'if you want to recover all of your account send bitcoin,'” she said.

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

“This is personal, you guys had access to my bank account, you guys know my address now, and it was an awakening for me to see how easy it is,” Smith said.

Despite the hardship, Smith worked towards a solution, finally launching a GoFundMe Saturday to help get back on her feet.

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

However with the community's help, Smith has now surpassed her goal.

“I have been floored with how many people have supported. I think it’s been over 100 different donations and donors coming in — just seeing all the support, and just seeing all the people sharing about this post, and the link and the information — all the encouragement has just been surreal,” Smith said.

Since her business took a hit, Smith has started reading the fine print, consulting with cybersecurity experts to learn how to keep small businesses safe.

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

Now onto the next chapter, Smith is hoping to keep the story going for BLK + BRWN.

“It’s all about accessing and connecting communities for me. A big piece of the access point is again, in Kansas City, you should still be able to find Black literature, and you should have access to it, and you should have a choice,” Smith said.