What to do when you receive an e-mail from a “hacker” claiming that he has collected all contact information from your computer, e-mail account and social media networks. Furthermore he has installed RAT software on your computer, activated your webcam and recorded videos of you “playing with yourself” while visiting porn sites.
He then threatens to release these videos if you don’t pay him $800 in Bitcoin within 48 hours or he will release these videos to all your contacts and social media friends.
Your e-mail address and a password is usually included in the blackmail message. If the password is correct or familiar, this might send you into a panic.
The first thing you need to do is calm down. The chance that the scammers threat is real is HIGHLY unlikely as this is an attempt to extort money from millions of people under false pretences.
Where did the scammer get your information?
A large number of major online services such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Adobe Systems, Badoo, DigiMon, Modaco and MasterDeeds (in South Africa) was hacked in the last couple of years and the perpetrators got away with personal information, including usernames and passwords used on these services. This data is sold off to spammers and scammers to use as they please.
The Sextortion scammer inserts the login information contained in these lists into their blackmail message to convince you that he does have your login details. If you used the same passwords for your e-mail the login information will be correct and even if the passwords is one that you have used, although not for your e-mail, it still adds authenticity to the blackmail message.
So has your e-mail account been hacked? Most probably not. These blackmail messages are sent out in mass to millions without the scammers going into the effort to try and access your e-mail account or access your computer or webcam.
How to respond to such a threat
- Do not respond to the e-mail.
- Check if the password in the e-mail is your actual e-mail password.
If so your e-mail account is vulnerable to thousands of scammers and spammers so you must change the password immediately.
If not check if you used the e-mail address passwords combination with any online services and if so change the passwords on those immediately.
General Preventative Measures to keep your e-mail account and other personal information safe.
- Always use secure passwords of at least 12 characters long containing uppercase letters, lowercase letters, special characters and numbers.
NEVER use parts personal information of yourself or family in your password like your name, your pet’s name, your birthdate, your address or phone number.
- Never enter passwords into a web site if you are not 100% the website belongs to the company or service you are dealing with.
- Visit https://haveibeenpwned.com/ and enter your e-mail address. A list will be displayed and if a known hack took place which revealed any of your personal information or passwords. If you used the same password on any of the hacked systems at other places change those immediately.
- NEVER use your e-mail password for any other online service.
- NEVER use the same password for different online services (If one is breached all accounts with the same password will also be exposed)
Example of a typical sextortion blackmail message
Hi, dear user of xxxxxxxxx.co.za
We have installed one RAT software into you device.
For this moment your email account is hacked (see on <from address>, I messaged you from your account).
Your password for firstname.lastname@example.org: yourpassword.
I have downloaded all confidential information from your system and I got some more evidence.
The most interesting moment that I have discovered are video records where you’re masturbating.
I posted my virus on porn site, and then you installed it on your operation system.
When you clicked the button Play on porn video, at that moment my trojan was downloaded to your device.
After installation, your front camera shoots video every time you masturbate, in addition, the software is synchronized with the video you choose.
For the moment, the software has collected all your contact information from social networks and email addresses.
If you need to erase all of your collected data, send me $800 in BTC (crypto currency).
This is my Bitcoin wallet: 1PuYAe7BLxNE6zE2asdfasdfPeVthfXCeYH88PmQ
You have 48 hours after reading this letter.
After your transaction I will erase all your data.
Otherwise, I will send video with your pranks to all your colleagues and friends!!!
And henceforth be more careful!
Please visit only secure sites!