According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) of the FBI, there has been a significant rise in the email extortion cases over the years. There was a 242% rise in the number of complaints received last year and the crimes numbered 51,146 and the losses involved was $83 million.
An FBI spokesperson said that the majority of the extortion complaints that was received in 2018 were part of sextortion campaign wherein the victims were threatened by sending a pornographic image or video or some other sort of compromising information to their friends, family or on social network if a particular ransom amount was not paid. Priya Sopori who is the partner at Greenberg Gluster, a law company said that they play with the basest levels of human psychology.
If people start to believe that the hackers know all the information about their life and even more than what they themselves know, then people will end up paying money even if they have not done anything wrong. Sopori said that the main reason why this works out well is because people especially the younger generation believe that there is nothing as privacy anywhere anymore. This makes them to believe that they could be spied by anyone at anytime. However these crimes point to the fact that privacy is still very important and the hackers use shame as a tremendous weapon against their targets.
Marcin Kleczynski, Malwarebytes CEO said that people should have a high skepticism level and should check the spam folders and update them to make sure that the latest versions of scams are being caught by the filters. Using password manager and by changing passwords often can be helpful. Multifactor authentication is yet another helpful method. In this, methods other than the passwords are used to login and this can ease the worries of people of getting hacked using a password. Sopori said that if people receive such scam emails, they can either report it to the IT department of their company or the local police or can even report it to the IC3 of FBI.