This past week, users in the United States have been bombarded by an email spam campaign that pushed a double-whammy of a sextortion attempt combined with a possible ransomware infection. ZDNet readers that aren’t aware of what a “sextortion” is, this is a term that comes from “sex” and “extortion,” and is used by IT security experts to describe a type of blackmail or ransom demand people receive via email. The threat usually consists of a cyber-criminal telling a user he’s been hacked or infected with malware, and the crook has managed to obtain evidence of the victim performing sexual acts or having illegal sexual-related files on his computer. Crooks threaten to expose the victim to friends, family, or authorities if a ransom demand is not paid in cryptocurrency in a given time. Sextortion scams –because this is what they are, just scams– have been popular for decades, but have died down in recent years only to come back this year in larger numbers than ever. Starting with May this year, there have been quite a few email spam waves pushing different versions of sextortion threats. There have been sextortion scams where the criminals claimed they were from China, where the hackers claimed they intercepted a user’s computer cache data, where the hackers claimed to have hacked all of a victim’s online accounts, where crooks claimed they hacked the victim’s phone, or where crooks claimed to have recorded the user via his webcam while visiting adult sites. These themes vary… [Read full story]
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