Reports of a new ‘sextortion’ scam have been emerging over the past week. Victims are asked to pay thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency to stop criminals from sharing videos of them watching content that is Not Safe For Work. Although this may seem like a particularly embarrassing case, there is always a way out. Thomas Wagner, Chief Policy Advisor at Surfshark, explains what to do in case of ‘sextortion’.

“In this type of scam cybercriminals send users their own passwords and try to blackmail them. The British National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) suspects, the passwords were seized during an old data breach. For a user it is quite difficult to tell whether it’s a real blackmail, because the scam looks particularly well-crafted,” claims Thomas Wagner.

NFIB has shared an example of what kind of emails are being sent to users:

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/alert-cyber-criminals-send-victims-their-own-passwords-in-new-sextortion-scam-jul18

Anyone who wants to check whether their email was breached can check it HERE and review all the potential cases.

Thomas Wagner believes, strong passwords are critical to prevent hacking of one’s sensitive information: “Make them long, do not use common words or phrases, change them regularly, do not use the same password to different accounts. Or simply get a password manager – it takes away a lot of hassle and gives an extra layer of protection.”

What to do if you became a victim of ‘sextortion’

Do not panic and do not pay

If you receive a similar email, do not rush to decide. Usually, the police advise not to pay for the criminals. If you pay or engage in any conversation, the scammer knows you are vulnerable. Paying does not guarantee anything. If you pay once, they know they can come after you again.

Secure your accounts. All of them

Make sure you change passwords to all the accounts you registered with the same email as soon as possible. This time avoid using the same password. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) if possible.

Cover your webcam

If scammers really connect to your camera, make sure they cannot see anything.

Do not engage in conversation

It means, do not reply to suspicious emails. Cybercriminals cannot know you are worried.

Install security software

Antivirus, VPN, or both – you choose. If you already use one, update it. Outdated software is vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Do not delete any correspondence

All the emails you received serve as evidence. Gather everything you think will help you or the police to catch the criminal.

Seek help

Report the case to the police or a federal institution responsible for helping citizens fight the cybercrime. If you feel psychological pressure, go to online help services which are usually free.

About Surfshark

Surfshark is highly secure, soundly encrypted and easy to use unlimited VPN service. For its users, Surfshark offers sophisticated software solutions to protect their personal space online and enjoy the open internet. One of the key premises of Surfshark is to make advanced web security accessible for the general society and to simplify its common implementation. That is why Surfshark is the only VPN service offering one account for unlimited devices. A company which is developing Surfshark privacy tools – Surfshark Ltd. – is registered in the British Virgin Islands as a part of a strict no-logs policy.

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