What Teens Should Know About Sextortion and Blackmail
The FBI recently began warning Internet users to be aware of a new sextortion threat. What originally started this announcement has been an important case of the FBI in Los Angeles last summer. A man has been arrested accused of a sexual blackmail plot affecting more than 200 victims, most of whom were young girls.
The charged man was said to have hacked into his victims computers, installed malicious code, downloaded sexually lewd images and used those images to extort more photos and videos from his victims.
In an FBI report stating that the extortionist operated on a popular social networking site and acted like a friend, relative or other trusted contact, to spread a virus that allowed him access to all his victim's computer. In several cases he was online with the friends of a person or a sister, and sent messages with attachments to the victim asking if they wanted to watch a video. If the victim opened the attachment, the virus has installed discreetly. Unknown to the victim, the perpetrator was now controlling their computer, including all files, folders, and devices.
The FBI says that with the threat of releasing obscene private information to their parents contact e-mail, the man pressured the young women to provide more pictures and video. According to a release from the FBI, in one example, the attacker adds a pornographic picture of his victim to an e-mail, and told her that if she didn't send a sexually explicit video of herself, he would notify her parents about all the photos he had discovered on her computer
Today, the devious plan a blackmailer has, can begin by hacking into a victim's computer and looking for embarrassing photos or messages to use against them. In extreme cases, the attacker can even take control of a webcam and a computer microphone and spy on someone without even knowing it. Every click, every keystroke can be controlled by a hacker who is motivated enough. In the case of a teenager, a parent can be blackmailed for money to provide more intimate pictures or videos to be shared.
In some cases, even the most innocuous request for online friends can start the process of a plan to blackmail someone. Such a request or comment can lead to flattering flirtation, which then leads to questionable photos the victim provides their online "friend". Once these images have been sent the "friend" has more influence and may demand money to keep the images in secret.
This plot is so widespread that it has a name...."Sextortion".
Besides cyber crime and online predators, you can add another thing to the list of online dangers, extortion and blackmail. Although both have been around for centuries, with the master users of modern technology of today, they have a far more effective method to spy on their victims, without the risk of being caught. All you need is a computer and Internet access.
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