August 10, 2017, Don Doman: I knew that leeches were used to bleed people during revolutionary times to make them feel better, but the first time I actually saw them was in the film “African Queen.” Humphrey Bogart as Charlie Allnut got out of the river after pulling his boat along the shallow waters. His companion Rosie screamed. He was covered with little black leeches. Shivering Bogart delivered his line “One thing in the world I hate: leeches.”

The giant Amazon leech can reach a length of 18 inches. It sticks its six inch nose into its victim and drinks its fill before moving on to another host. The only worst “blood sucker” is the terrorizing “cyberleech.” Once it latches on to you it won’t let go until it either sucks information from your memory banks, or you pay it to release you, and their control of your computer.

The big unsophisticated ransomware attack was just a few months ago, but the latest one near the end of June was more refined. Both did their jobs however. These attacks generally start with the same gambit. Just like the character Dracula, vampires can’t enter your home unless invited. Everyone who uses a computer with email has to be watchful and never, never, never, open a link unless they are sure that it is safe.

Even huge corporations and agencies get hacked, but still, smaller companies and individuals can protect themselves from hacking, ID theft, and stolen sensitive information. Every computer user and business system should maintain up-to-date Malware protection software, backed up files, and never, ever share your passwords or hard drives. Each time a small business is hacked the possibilities are there for your client email and information to be copied and uploaded. There are IT (Information Technology) experts and mobile shredding service companies in every state to protect you.

Land Shark Mobile Shredding, which operates in Southern Indiana, and well as Western Kentucky (headquarters in Bowling Green) and Tennessee provides special training services to educate company employees. Owner Don Gerard says, “All data and privacy protection laws include requirements for employee training. Land Shark Shredding can help your business comply with the laws governing your industry and spare you the expense and time of developing your own training program. We offer training on Proper document and data retention and destruction, HIPAA compliance, and identity theft prevention.”

In western Washington and Oregon, LeMay Mobile Shredding offers special articles and graphics they share with customers as well as the general public. Representative Michelle Roberts says, “Protection sometimes means working together. While we offer shredding to individuals and businesses, not everyone has enough old files and documents to make it worthwhile for them to contact us, but there are alternatives. To make it easier to shred for many people, you can bring up to three grocery bags of your old documents to a FREE shredding party. FREE Shredding Events can be sponsored by any business or organization in Western Washington. Some sponsors charge nothing for the service and some will accept food and donations for their communities. Other sponsors ask for school supplies to help families with young children.”

Cyber-attacks that lock up our computers is bad enough, but it’s just like blackmail, they’ll keep coming back unless we make it harder for them to cast their spell. It’s never over for both small and big businesses until everyone is prepared with well trained employees. The second step is for old computers, e-waste, paperwork set aside for destruction, and memory devices have all been completely shredded and totally destroyed. There are other shredding companies in the U.S. and Canada who can help protect your business and your clients. Somebody has to stop those blood suckers . . . and all of us need to do what we can. We hate leeches. They can kill business.

Don Doman is a published author of self-help small business books, a digital marketer, an imagineer, and a community instigator.