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Midtown bookstore owner aims to build back after getting hacked

Posted at 9:55 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 23:20:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cori Smith built Blk + Brwn bookstore in Midtown less than a year ago with the goal to amplify storytellers’ voices — something she says she didn’t think she’d be targeted for.

“When I woke up this morning it shattered my face, I think I’m still in shock,” Smith said.

She said her website was gone, passwords to bank accounts had been changed and the method she used to accept donations from people had been compromised.

“I just sell books,” Smith said. “I want to create access for people to see our stories and to wake up and all of that just be gone ... I had an email that said to recover your account send us $500 in Bitcoin.”

Smith said she loaded her website with more than 600 books with access to playlists, lectures and programs that provide literature to inmates, a book club and youth mentorship.

“That’s all gone, the idea of having to start over and rebuild all these connections,” she said. “That’s a good third of my business.”

Smith said that she isn't someone who “leaves their passwords around or someone who has all the same passwords."

Security engineer at Alias, Andrew Lemon, says if you are hacked and it's tied to your money or your reputation, be vigilant.

“Have a good strong password, an eight-character password isn’t enough anymore,” Lemon said. “Our line of work, we can crack those passwords at a maximum of 39 minutes, most of them crack instantaneously.”

Unique, strong and long passwords are crucial, Lemon suggests they be more than 15 characters with two-factor authentication.

Meanwhile, Smith advises not to take your security for granted.

“This is my livelihood, this is it so I would just say you can never be too cautious,” Smith said.

Despite all she's lost, she still continues to turn the page.

“I feel like I’m supposed to do this and I’ll have to take this as confirmation I’m on the right path and I'll rebuild,” she said.

Smith tells us she won't be paying the money, but is looking to rebuild her online presence, and for now, you can find the Blk + Brown KC bookstore on Instagram for updates.