BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - Cyber-attacks can happen anywhere, even in your own backyard.
One Lowcountry nonprofit agency said it's been targeted by hackers multiple times in the past year, and the organization's president said he has a message for other local businesses.
A local non-profit said its website was hacked last year and again last week. The cyber-attacks have cost the organization lots of money and time, and they want you to know that it could happen to you too.
"Our mission is to inspire, empower islanders around the world to participate in foreign affairs, and that's to help them improve the quality of life in island communities around the world," said Islands Society President Michael Edward Walsh.
Wash said it's been hard to do that in the past year ever since someone has been targeting their website.
"In the last year and a half, it seems like we have a pretty dedicated aggressor who's been trying to exploit us online," Walsh said. "Initially it was trying to knock us offline and sort of take over our hosting, and they were able to do that. They were able to knock us offline. It obviously severely impacted our ability to carry out our mission."
Walsh said since then, he's had to dedicate more than 70 percent of the organization's budget to combat the online threat, and he wants other local businesses to know that it's happened to him, so they can protect themselves before it's too late.
"A lot of people are unaware this issue is happening in our local community," Walsh said. "They think this issue is happening at the Pentagon, or the State Department, or the White House. You don't realize it's happening here and not to just multi-national corporations. We're a very small non-profit all volunteer organization."
The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office said these types of cyber-attacks happen pretty often, and it's up to businesses and organizations to make sure they are protected. Walsh said he thinks the public and law enforcement could benefit from knowing more about cybercrimes.
"We're not really educated on how many people are facing these sort of attacks," Walsh said. "We're not really educated on how they can deal with and respond to these attacks. In our case, filing a police report was difficult."
The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office said it has the capability to investigate some cybercrimes, but on many occasions when the attacks happen outside of their jurisdiction, they have to pass the case on to the state or the FBI.
For more information on how to protect your business from cyber-attacks, go here.