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How to deal with Sextortion: Cyber Security email advice

Fake emails are growing year on year. One of the latest developments is the rise in Sextortion.

Although it’s not a completely new term, varying degrees of Sextortion have been around since before the birth of the internet. In these instances, local news has reported issues of criminals blackmailing individuals using private and sensitive information. Placing these cases somewhere between sexual exploitation and sexual blackmail.

However, what we are referring to is online Sextortion. Where non-physical forms of coercion are displayed to steal money from the victim. Using the threat of releasing sensitive imagery, audio or video they have of the victim.

In most cases this is done via email, demanding the victim to pay a large amount of money to protect the content being shared and distributed.

We’ve given past advice on some quick ways to detect if an email is fake. Along with our Cyber Security services from our partners at Mimecast will keep your business communications safe.

Reports of fake emails including Sextortion are always on the rise.
Here’s a prime email of what a Sextortion email looks like:

So, to put some myths to bed, we’ve got some guidance and how to deal with sextortion emails if you are ever put in a difficult position.

Do they have information on you?

If you have previously interreacted with an individual on a personal level. They could have sensitive information involving you – it’s important to consider whether the criminal is someone you have a history with.

Check the sender and see if you recognize the email address. Double check to see if you have emailed their address before or interacted with them in any way.

In most cases though, if you do not recognize the sender they probably don’t have any information about you.

Could a random person record my webcam?

 

There is a type of malware called Remote Access Trojans, and yes it does give the hacker the possibility to turn on a webcam remotely.

Meaning yes, your webcam could be remotely accessed, but only if you allow a malicious site to unload the malware onto your computer.

Simple steps like having the Webroot chrome extension can keep malicious sites at bay, as well as routinely updating your password so any information hacker does have are useless.

What should I do if I receive an email?

If you do receive a sextortion email, which doesn’t include any exact details or information attached. Simply ignore it.

Do not click any links or share any details. As often, this is simply an email which has no weight or truth to it.

Just delete the email. Do not respond!

What if the email includes lots of my information?

 

If the email displays a worrying amount of information and sparks fear, here are some reassuring facts:

The email shows what my password is/was

Hopefully, it’s an old password which is being shown, meaning that the hacker cannot get into anything valuable. It may seem scary, but most passwords are taken from data breaches. Meaning that the password hasn’t been stolen directly from you.

My phone number is included


A lot like how hackers find out email addresses, phone numbers are taken from exposed data breaches. Often these are paired up with data from the email address, as you would have entered this data into an exposed website.

The email is from my own email address?


As dodgy as this looks, it means nothing. Hackers can manipulate the name that shows up in the ‘from:’ field. So if it looks like it comes from you, do not panic!

Final steps?

Try not to panic if a potential Sextortion email scares you, as 9 times out of 10 it is nothing,

If an email arrives with sensitive information in the mail (images or videos etc.) then approach with caution. Contact your IT supplier to check the legitimacy of the email, and then if the sender is linked to yourself – the authorities should be alerted.

Next steps?

If after reading this and are worried about the type of emails you receive. Then please get in contact with us on 02920 887 362 or send us an email at info@excellence-it.co.uk

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