Protecting yourself online…a must listen!!! Kara Kamienski

We're not just talking about your website

You need to make sure your website is safe and secure. But have you stopped to consider the other areas of your business that need protecting?

For Kara Kamienski, the first thing that took a hit after her website was her Facebook page. She never saw it coming but is passionate about making sure her clients and other business owners are safe online. 

Find and connect with Kara: Website | Instagram | Facebook

We're not just talking about your website  |  Focus(ed) Podcast

Show Notes

Kara's story

She is a wedding photographer in Illinois. Kara was a special education teacher for 9 years before she stayed home with her kids. While at home, she wanted to get a little creative and help out with the financials. Kara saw a blog with amazing photos and asked them how they got them. She had a garage sale and passed out her photography business cards and used the money from the sale to buy her first camera. She booked 5 sessions from the garage sale when she didn’t have camera! Kara is now in year 9 of her business and she has a team of photographers and an editor on staff. When she’s not busy with her business she’s spending time with her kids and husband around the community.

The garage sale ended on a Sunday and she purchased her camera on Monday. That next Saturday she shot her first prom session all from handing out her business cards before she had a business! You don’t have to have it all perfect before you get started; sometimes you just have to start. Hiring a photographer can be a scary thing, so being the professional and having the confidence will be beneficial to your business too.

The first wake up call

Kara saw that her PayPal account was depleting and she wasn’t sure how or why. After talking with a local IT person, they found out it was through a widget on her Wordpress site. They then worked through removing certain countries from being able to see her site and limited it to just the US and Canada. Kara had loaded different widgets on her site with out really recognizing what they were doing. PayPal was able to retrieve and return her money and she wasn’t affected much in the long run.

The second call

That summer she was helping the kids with a charity in her town and let her computer open at home while she went to run an errand. When she got back home, she decided to check how many notifications she got on her latest post about the charity on Facebook. After trying to login a few different times, she realized again she had been hacked. Kara figured it would be easy again to contact Facebook and get everything swapped back over to her the next day. It ended up being a 6 week ordeal and not only did the hacker get access to her clients and business page, but also all the pages and groups she was part of. This second hacking showed her how vulnerable we are online and became passionate about helping business owners (and people in general) protect themselves online. Many entrepreneurs rely on their social media and websites to run their businesses and it can be taken from you instantly.

Protecting yourself

The first thing that you must do is make sure that the email you use to login with is your main email address. Kara had changed her main email over from yahoo to gmail, but she never updated her Facebook email and that is how the hackers got into her Facebook. The second thing you need to do is set up your “three trusted contacts” in your security settings. If you get locked out of your account, you can name one of your trusted contacts and Facebook will work with them to help get you back into your account. Kara had never heard of this feature but the hacker did and they friended 3 new people and named them the trusted contacts. At this point, she was at a dead end.

She had been working with local IT and even the FBI at one point to help get back into her account. Kara’s IT guy did warn her not to name her trusted contacts as her mom, sister, or husband. Pick people you trust but that aren’t obvious to others or people you interact with too much. The FBI agent told her there are sometimes when they get blocked on a criminal case due to privacy issues. That was probably the third wake up call for Kara.

You can also check out where your Facebook profile has been logged into geographically and you can confirm or deny that you were there. Once you tell Facebook you weren’t at a certain location, they’ll block that IP address. It takes less than 10 minutes to do, but it can be huge for your protection.

Further impact and protection

This didn’t effect her website too much, any accounts (like her PayPal again) associated with that old email address were effected. Kara started using the 2-factor authentication for logging into pretty much anything. They will send you a code that you enter in after using your login and password. Kara took everything she learned during this whole issue and wrote a blog post about it that she sent out to others. Her photographer friends started sharing her blog all over social media in order to help people protect themselves and their businesses online. As this post began to spread, someone put her in contact with a connection at Facebook and she finally got back into her own account after 6 weeks.

Taking back control

Kara finally got back in her Facebook and she took screenshots of everything that transpired in her messenger app, new friends, photos sent, etc. She even decided to translate some of the messages from Arabic to English and she realized nothing was right. Kara called the FBI again and handed over the all the messages and photos to them and never asked what they discovered.

Kara knows that social media is important for any business to use; she is just more aware of her online presence and what she shares. Her biggest concern is educating other business owners on how and why they need to protect their businesses, their clients, and their data. She urges you not to see Facebook as just Facebook. It is another place (Instagram too) that you need to make sure you’re protected and your clients are as well.

Don't forget to join the Focus(ed) Business Owners on Facebook to discuss your thoughts on this episode!

Kara Kamienski

More about Kara

Kara Kamienski is a wedding photographer based in central Illinois.  Since starting her business in 2009- Kara has shot over 300 weddings all over the United States and internationally.   She believes strongly in success that is bred from hard work and humor:)  When not shooting weddings, Kara strives to help other women succeed in business through mentoring young girl entrepreneurs and serving on her local Chamber of Commerce board.   Kara is married to hot farmer husband of 15 years, and has a 13 year old daughter and a 10 year old son.  She coaches basketball and loves all things sports.  Fried pickles are life.  She has a strange fascination with true crime and wants to go undercover for the FBI one day.  Random moment of Fame- Kara was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune in 2015 and won:)

Find and connect with Kara: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Cinnamon Wolfe