How Hackers Blackmail You

Andrew McIntosh | January 22, 2020

See how hackers use clever social engineering methods to trick people into paying a fake ransom.

There are a lot of bad guys out there who are willing to blackmail you and steal your money.

Sadly we’ve had people contact us in the past, panicked and frightened over this email they received.  Here’s how it works:

1) Companies sometimes experience well publicized breaches (think Target, Home Depot, etc.) where they lose thousands or even millions of customer records to hackers.

2) The hackers will put this personal information up for sale on the “dark web”.  Depending on the extent of the breach, this information might include your name, email address, contact info, password used for that site and sometimes more.

3) Other bad guys will purchase this data in bulk (for cheap!) and use it to try and blackmail people.  They will take the real email address and password they illegally obtained, and contact you claiming that they’ve successfully hacked into your computer.

4) Then, they accuse you of viewing pornographic websites and sometimes claim to have caught you in the act.  That accusation, paired with them showing your your real, actual password for a given site, can make it all believable.  This is social engineering at work.

5) They threaten to release images or video of you looking at this material and sending it to all your contacts (which they also claim to have access to) if you don’t send them a sum of money via Bitcoin within 24 hours.

What makes this scam so clever is that it is often very believable under the right circumstances. And showing that they have your password makes it seem legit.  Lastly, the social impact of having this spread to all your contacts is designed to make someone panic, not think it through, and send the money over before realizing it’s all a hoax.

Now that you understand what this scam is and how it works, you know it’s a bluff and they don’t actually have any “dirt” on you.  So next time you see something like this in your inbox, know that you can safely delete it without fear of repercussions!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this video and learned some useful tips that will help you avoid getting scammed!  If you’d like to see future videos and security related content be sure to subscribe below!

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