Spyware is any software that installs itself on your devices and starts covertly monitoring your data, cameras and microphones without your knowledge or permission, with the intent to pass it along to a third party.
Cyber criminals can use Spyware harvested details to commit many different crimes from identity theft, fraud and even extortion.
Increased online connectivity means the blending of our work lives and personal life has expanded too, which means the level of precaution constantly required has neve been higher, and neither has the consequences of extortion.
It’s almost unescapable for modern professionals to not display the nature of their work, or name of workplace within their social media accounts. All it takes is a quick Google search to figure out the rest.
For anyone online it’s quick and easy to find someone’s family members, friends, co-workers, employees and even customers. Great for networking and reconnecting, but awful in cases of blackmail.
That’s what we want to talk about. A rising form of extortion, that seeks to use your personal life to endanger your professional one.
Rise of Sextortion
As if 2020 and 2021 weren’t bad enough, they’ve also seen a sharp increase of cybercrime leading to extortion, and of a particularly malicious variety: ‘sextortion.’
Cyber sextortion is part of a larger spectrum of image-based sexual offending in which images are used for harm, and or for ransom.
As the National Crime Agency (NCA) says, for criminals ‘it’s a low risk way to make money and they can reach many victims easily online.’
The past two years have seen global increases of economic uncertainty, higher levels of isolation and a dependency on technology to facilitate relationships, and an adjustment to remote working, which has filled our homes with more devices, and more webcams than ever before.
All this, and the cybercrime industry continues to boom, with 230,000 new malware samples produced every day globally.
Effectively, we have the conditions for the perfect storm Sextortion case increases.
Sextortion Prevention Methods
There are numerous ways to protect yourself and your business from Spyware and its possible consequences.
But just a quick note, about some key distinctions on the subject.
Crimes such as fraud, extortion, and sextortion, can occur in numerous ways.
As you might imagine, the purpose of this blog is to focus on the cyber security breach angle. But it is important to note the significant alternative.
Which is that sensitive images are taken and handed over willingly, and then used wrongly against them in the future. Whether this is from criminals acting under false pretences, or a personal betrayal.
Whether intentions were criminal from the beginning or not, the end result is a criminal one. For the victim, it results with the same potential damages to one’s personal and professional life. Sextortion is a crime,
Quoting the NCA again ‘The best way to stop yourself from becoming a victim is to be very careful about who you befriend with online, especially if you’re considering sharing anything intimate with them.’
Stopping Cyber Attack Sextortion
Cyber security is a little bit easier to account for than the motivations of human beings. So, how do you protect yourself from a cyber attack with the purpose of sextortion?
Such as when Spyware controlled webcams capture image based information, which is relayed to a third party.
Dealing with a cyber security breach like that is our speciality, and thankfully the solutions are simple, and easy to enact.
- Simplest, cheapest and easiest of all is the old-reliable webcam cover. If spyware takes control of your webcam, a bit of plastic ensures you are not visible. We do recommend a proper cover, rather than something tedious to apply or remove, or something that damages the lens. However, the a webcam cover only blocks the lens. It does nothing to protect your microphones from control, or your data. Also, there is a chance you forget to apply your cover.
- The most comprehensive thing you can do to protect your devices, and yourself is with good secure software. Use a reliable cyber security suite, with antivirus that stops any malware from taking hold in your device. We offer comprehensive cyber security software, such as our brand new Guardian 247 package.
We at Always Networks work and help businesses with their cyber security. But in this world of integrated accounts and technology, it’s undeniable that line between the personal and the professional has grown thinner.
This level of connectivity largely allows people and businesses great opportunities, but there is a potential that something like extortion can negatively domino from your personal life, to your professional one.
That’s why we wanted to do this blog, and raise the awareness of this alarming trend, and give you the means to defend against it.
If you have any concerns, or wish to more about Sextortion than please check the NCA website.
If you’d like to take steps in securing your devices more completely, than check out our brand new service Guardian 247.
An effective and affordable package for small businesses, that comes loaded with our SentinelOne Antivirus software. Which will protect your devices from all types of malware, including from the spyware that seeks to control your webcams.