Thousands of Internet users, especially in the UK, Australia and the Middle East, were hit by the newest porn blackmail scam, or so-called “sextortion”. The email scam, which appears to be real at first glance, is a mix of social engineering and blackmail techniques. It claims that you accidentally downloaded malware, which hacked your webcam and then recorded you watching porn. The threat culminates in a demand for a ransom payment in Bitcoin digital currency (between $300 to $3,000 USD or more), or the perpetrators will send the inglorious video to your family, friends and coworkers. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?

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Many Fyde users reported receiving the porn blackmail scam. Check out the following examples of the emails. Have you received anything similar to this?

“I’m aware that <substitute password formerly used by recipient here> is your password,

You don’t know me and you’re thinking why you received this e mail, right? Well, I actually placed a malware on the porn website and guess what, you visited this web site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as a RDP (Remote Desktop) and a keylogger which provided me access to your display screen and webcam. Right after that, my software gathered all your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook account, and email account. I made a split-screen video. First part recorded the video you were viewing (you’ve got a fine taste haha), and next part recorded your webcam (Yep! It’s you doing nasty things!).

Well, I believe, $1400 is a fair price for our little secret. You’ll make the payment via Bitcoin to the below address (if you don’t know this, search “how to buy bitcoin” in Google). BTC Address: 1Dvd7Wb72JBTbAcfTrxSJCZZuf4tsT8V72 (It is cAsE sensitive, so copy and paste it).

You have 24 hours in order to make the payment. (I have an unique pixel within this email message, and right now I know that you have read this email). If I don’t get the payment, I will send your video to all of your contacts including relatives, coworkers, and so forth. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I will erase the video immidiately. If you want evidence, reply with “Yes!” and I will send your video recording to your 5 friends. This is a non-negotiable offer, so don’t waste my time and yours by replying to this email.”

How it all started

“Sextortion” refers to a scam in which someone threatens to share your private and sensitive information if you don’t provide them with images and favors of a sexual nature, or money. Sextortion emails have been around for some time, however the new “twist” to the latest scams is a referenced victim’s password (previously or currently used) and Bitcoin address where the ransom should be paid. Cyber criminals have planned to hit the jackpot using porn as the main hook. According to PornHub’s 2017 year in review insights, 81 million visitors visit the site every day. Coupled with the statistic that by year-end 2017 the average user received 16 malicious emails per month, the porn blackmail scam will likely succeed in its campaign to scare and convince. Using social engineering adds a false sense of urgency and fear as a powerful motivating force to make victims pay the ransom. How to avoid falling victim to these scams? Follow our tips:

 Do they really have it

If you received a scam email, check if your name, potentially visited porn websites or compromising videos are shared in that email. If the email is addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam”it’s definitely a clue it’s not real. The attacker doesn’t know you and cannot compromise your security and reputation. What to do with the email? Don’t reply to it. Just ignore it.

 Password isn’t enough

If your password is mentioned in the email, don’t get scared as your password might have been leaked earlier, even a decade ago, through vast data breaches such as the 2008 MySpace, the 2014 Yahoo! or the 2018 Facebook leaks . Attackers buy or obtain those passwords to scare you and make the email look authentic. If you are concerned about your password security, change your password immediately and reset it on any other accounts where you used it. When possible, also enable two-factor authentication (2FA). In order to confirm whether your password has been leaked, visit ‘Haveibeenpwned’, a site that allows you to check if your security has been compromised.

 Never send money to people you have never met

Just don’t. Don’t take the Nike motto for granted on this one. No matter how convincing the email looks and sounds, do not pay the ransom. The people and/or automated systems behind the email have criminal intent and you shouldn't trust them. 

Run antimalware

If you think you’ve received one of these scams, run the antimalware tool on your device to check if malware actually exists. To be on the safe side, always make sure that your antivirus software and operating systems are up to date.

Check the grammar

If the email contains grammatical errors, dodgy spelling and weird ways of saying things, it’s a scam.

Don’t open links and attachments

Don’t open any attachments or click on links in untrusted emails. Otherwise, you could accidentally install malware or ransomware on your device.

If you received the porn blackmail scam, the best thing to do is to ignore it. This scam is designed to scare you and compromise your feeling of safety. We recommend you use Fyde app, which will alert and block phishing attacks and prevent you from opening malicious links or attachments.

Tags: Blog, Phishing