To steal money out of unsuspecting Internet users, online crooks are becoming more and brighter every day. Although it is our job to provide comprehensive information technology, cloud computing, and cyber-security services, K2Technologies is far from immune when it comes to online criminal attacks.
A recent email that I received from an unknown source serves as a perfect example. The basest kind of unwarranted blackmail, emails such as this attempt to extort money out of innocent people by threatening to release damning information about them or evidence against them. In the vast majority of cases, however, the would-be extortionists possess no such knowledge or evidence, and they are making the emptiest of threats.
Key elements of this evolving “blackmail” email scam are exemplified in the unsolicited email that I received.
- Password Breach – Nothing will get your attention faster than seeing someone else in possession of your password. In our case, it was an extremely old password that he hadn’t used in years, but the fact that the blackmailers obtained it serves as proof of their credibility, doesn’t it? In fact, this is far from the truth! Outdated passwords that you may have entered on websites that are now in disuse and ill repair may be quite easy for hackers to access. In any event, the mere fact that they obtained your password illegally should make you seriously question, rather than automatically believe, any other statements that they happen to make.
- Tracking through Malware – After “proving” to you that they know exactly who you are, perpetrators may claim that they have amassed incriminating evidence about you regarding the specific websites that you have visited. While that it is true that malware programs can track your online activity (including visits to potentially implicating digital destinations such as pornography hubs and dating websites), you should never take such claims at face value.
- Video Recordings through Your Webcam – In some cases, would-be blackmailers may even claim to have a video of you in the privacy of your home or office. Again, in certain instances, hackers can gain access to your webcam and hijack it for their own nefarious purposes. However, like cases of purported malware tracking, cases of webcam tampering should be investigated thoroughly before they are taken seriously.
- Threatening Exposure to Your Contacts – After attempting to scare you into compliance, the scam email will generally report that your list of email, phone, and/or social media contacts has been accessed and that, if you don’t acquiesce to all demands, incriminating evidence against you will be forwarded to everyone on that list. In the case of this email, the sender provided absolutely no indication that he or she could actually accomplish this.
- Demanding Payment – Of course, the entire reason for this scam is to extract money from the victim that it targets. In most cases, the exact sum requested will be a carefully chosen figure – large enough to produce a significant profit, but small enough to be surrendered without too much forethought or hedging. In this example, the perpetrators asked for their payment in Bitcoin, taking advantage of the fact that crypto-currency transactions are far harder to monitor and trace online.
If you have more concerns about scam emails or simply want to learn more about general computer security in Wyoming, contact the K2 Technologies team at (888) 686-3025 or reach us through our website at https://www.k2technologies.net/contact-us/.