How To Avoid From Being Sextortioned

“I know your password, and I have recorded you devious acts.”

Are you here because you got an email saying that a hacker has a video of you watching porn? Did they threaten to share it with your friends and family unless you paid a ransom into an anonymous Bitcoin wallet? If you did, you’re not alone. In the last two years, almost everyone we speak to has seen one in their inbox. But there seems to have been a surge in interest since much of the western world entered lockdown to contain the coronavirus. The good news, every word is untrue! It’s a scam! Here is an example.

This email caught our eye as much for what it didn’t say as what it did. Typically, sextortion attempts of this type include a form of fake “proof” that might persuade the reader they’ve been hacked. The above tries to coerce you to take action as it has proof of your devious deeds. It can provide you contact with nine people which are most likely in cahoots with the miscreant. What this email doesn’t do, what none of them ever do, is offer anything close to actual proof. If the “hacker” had a video of you performing a sexual act, they wouldn’t need to send you long dead passwords, perform email slights of hand, deceive you with tales of their technical prowess or go into oddly specific details about the format of the split-screen video. They’d just show you the video. So don’t worry, don’t pay and don’t reply. Having said that, Sextorsion is real. It does happen. Here is a video that the FBI created about what Sextortion is about. • What are the lessons that you can take? • “Extortion” is forcing someone into giving you something through threats. • Extortion works because the threat itself must be able to cause fear in the victim. The fear can be based on almost anything, such as the fear of violence, economic loss, social stigma, deportation, shaming, reputation or anything else that might cause the victim to act or do something that they don’t want to do. • Most states treat blackmail as a type of extortion or coercion, which involves threats of violence or other harm to compel a person to do something. What can you do about it? • Never post or share personal or compromising information about yourself online. • Do not open attachments or click on links that you did not request it in the first place. • Turn off your camera and microphone if you are not using them. • Keep your devices and PC updated and protected. • Use “strong passwords” and avoid reusing them. • Go on every social media account you have and review the privacy settings. • Learn how to spot phishing attempts that could lead to a criminal obtaining your passwords and other sensitive information.

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