What is Sextortion?
‘Sextortion’ refers to a specific type of cyber enabled crime in which victims are lured into performing sexual acts in front of their webcam. Unbeknown to victims, their actions are recorded by criminals who then use the video footage in an attempt to blackmail them. Generally criminals request money (in some instances Bitcoin) and if demands are not met, these offenders threaten to upload the recordings to the internet and send them to the victims’ friends and family.
How does it work?
The victim will be befriended usually on a social media platform where conversations will begin. This will then lead into a private chat between the victim and the perpetrator where both will then exchange intimate videos / images. The victim will firmly believe that the person they see in the video is the person they are engaging in conversation with. The victim will then be sent a recording of them carrying out the sexual act along with threats to send it to friends and family via social media platforms unless a payment is made – or in some incidents, gift cards – to prevent them being distributed to people they know. The attempt to blackmail is designed to play on people’s emotions so that they will behave in a way which is out of character.
What can you do?
When you’re not using the webcam on your computer, cover it.
Avoid uploading embarrassing photos
Never store compromising photos of yourself to locations that are commonly targeted by hackers. Do you really want to expose yourself to a complete stranger on video with the risk of the video going viral?
Use common sense when online dating
Never trust an online dating profile. Be wary about who you invite or accept invitations from on social networking sites. Do not accept friendship requests from complete strangers, irrespective of ‘mutual friend’ status.
Profile photos may not be genuine
Performing a reverse image search on a search engine can find photos that have been taken from somewhere, or someone else.
Social Media Privacy
Update the privacy settings on your social networking accounts so only people you know can view them. Do not include any sensitive, private or confidential information in profiles.