A new sextortion scam has been detected that attempts to fool the recipient of the message into believing their email account has been compromised and that their computer is under full control of a hacker. This email scam is highly convincing, contains a worrying threat, and demands payment to prevent the release of potentially damaging information.
In the message body, the user is told that their computer has been hacked. The hacker installed a virus on the computer when the user visited an adult website. The virus allowed the hacker to gain access to sensitive information on the computer, including all of the user’s passwords, gave the attacker full control of the webcam and access to websites that were visited in real time.
While the user was visiting pornographic websites, the webcam was recording and sending the video footage to the hacker. The hacker was also taking screenshots of the content that was being viewed at the time. The hacker claims to have synced the website content with the webcam footage and has produced an very embarrassing video, stating “Your tastes are so weird.”
The hacker threatens to send that video to all of the user’s contacts, friends, family, and their partner via email. The video will also be posted on social media websites. To avoid that potentially disastrous scenario, the hacker demands payment must be made in Bitcoin. If payment is made, the hacker says the video will be permanently deleted. This scam will no doubt be familiar to viewers of Black Mirror, a recent episode of which covered a very similar sextortion scam.
Individuals receiving the email that have not visited pornographic websites or do not have a webcam will naturally be able to identify the message as a scam. However, for many individuals, the threat may seem real. Individuals that have visited questionable sites or have a lot to lose if such information is released are likely to be extremely worried about the threat.
However, this is a sextortion scam where the attacker has no leverage. There is no virus, no webcam footage, and it is an empty threat. However, it is clear that at least some recipients were not willing to take a chance. According to security researcher SecGuru, who received a version of the email in Dutch, the Bitcoin account used by the scammer had received payments of 0.37997578 Bitcoin – $3,500 – in the first two days of the campaign. Now, 7 days after the first payment was made, the account shows that 1.1203 Bitcoin – $6,418 – has been paid by 15 individuals.
A similar sextortion scam was conducted in the summer which also had an interesting twist. It used an old password for the account that had been obtained from a data dump. In that case, the password was real, at least at some point in the past, which made the scam seem genuine.
In this scam, a new technique is used in addition to the inclusion of a password. The sender address has been spoofed to make it appear that the hacker has gained access to the user’s email account. The sender and recipient names in the emails are identical and show that the message has been sent from the user’s account.
A quick and easy check that can be performed to determine whether the sender name displayed in an email is the actual account that has been used, is to click forward. When this is done, the display name is shown, but so too is the actual email address that the message has been sent from. In this case, this simple check does not work, which suggests that the email has actually been sent from the user’s account.
There have been several similar scams conducted recently with a similar theme. Another similar scam includes an email attachment that the hacker claims contains the video that has been created. The file is an executable which will download malware onto the user’s device.
If you receive any such email, you should delete the message and take no further action. As a precaution, conduct a full malware scan of your computer and change your email and social media passwords.
Businesses can protect their networks against malware infections from scams such as these by implementing two cybersecurity solutions: An advanced spam filter to prevent scam emails from being delivered to end users and a web filtering solution to block malware downloads and prevent users from visiting adult websites in the workplace.
For further information of the benefits of these cybersecurity solutions, details of pricing, and to request a demo to see the solutions in action, contact the TitanHQ team today.