Every day, there is a new story or a news article about teen girls being tricked or blackmailed for obscene pictures or other such related topics. They are forced into sending compromising photos of themselves to criminals and malicious third parties. So you need to be careful and protect yourself from sextortion.
Latest Article of BBC News regarding sextortion botnet:
All popular news and legal authorities have stated that “Sextortion” – is on the rise.
When you ask people about this, you will get a puzzled look — especially parents who think that this can never happen to their children. The sad part is, on the contrary, this is happening more and more. Girls are blackmailed, and they are too scared to tell their parents about what is happening.
If you are underage and being blackmailed, then talk to your parents. Contact your local law enforcement immediately. Read this article it may help you. But first, talk to your parents.
What to do when you are being blackmailed or harassed?
1) Talk to your parents and guardian
Talk to your mom and dad. They are the people who care for you the most. Talk to them, ask them for help. It is normal to feel scared, but they are your parents; they will always help you can take care of you. Being able to take help from your parents is a blessing. Do not be afraid to ask for help. You may not be able to protect yourself from sextortion on your own but with the help of parents and guardians, it is possible.
2) Take screenshots and record everything
Make sure you record and keep all proof of the crime. The criminal should not be able to deny the crime. It will help you a lot in getting justice. Make sure you do not delete anything and keep screenshots and recordings of calls and messages so that they can be used as evidence. Even if you don’t have the proper proof, the record will be critical to protect yourself from sextortion.
3) Always go to the police, always a better option than schools
There have been many cases where schools have stopped the victim from filing a complaint since both the perpetrator as well as the victim were from the same school. In many cases, the person committing the crime is also a teenager. But a crime is a crime regardless of age.
The Police or the Authoritative body will always be helpful and proven most reliable in most of the cases.
4) Talk to a lawyer
In addition to extortion, this crime can also be legally prosecuted as possession of child pornography if the victim here is a child. It can be classified as revenge porn if the victim is an adult. Always Report any such activities and crimes to your local law enforcement first, not the child’s school or college. It is not the job of schools and teachers to handle crime; possessing or exchanging obscene pictures of someone (especially a minor) without their consent is a severe crime and should not be taken lightly. Talk to your lawyer; they can help you get justice and punish the criminal properly.
So what exactly is Sextortion, and how can we prevent it?
There are two types of methods criminals use to target girls:
The criminals use fake accounts and attractive images and avatars to take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet and use social media to trick young victims into trusting them. After the trust is established, they convince them to reveal personal details or sending revealing images of them. These criminals then use these images and recordings as leverage to blackmail their victims into sending more compromising pictures and videos.
Malware or spyware based method:
In this method, they use hackers help, or they themselves are a hacker who targets the victim’s device with spyware. Then with the help of the spyware or malware, they stealthily turn the victim’s webcam on. In this case, the victim herself unknowingly is recorded while changing clothes or other life events. Then the criminal contacts the victim showing some revealing images and then blackmails the victim into sending more pictures.
Sextortion is a prevalent crime, and it is more prevalent now since every girl now has a mobile device. On 16th October 2019, a massive phishing campaign was spotted and shown on BBC news how it had hacked over 450000 devices and was blackmailing millions of people.
These hackers and criminals use Facebook, Kik Messenger WhatsApp, and other social media. After establishing communication with the girls, the hackers then would “threaten to reveal sexually explicit images publicly in their schools or to their friends.”
While this can happen to anyone regardless of age or gender, the reality is girls are targeted more often. Teen girls are the majority of victims. The perpetrators and criminals, too, can be of any age or gender. You might be inclined to think only men are blackmailing young girls. That is not true. There are many cases of girls blackmailing other girls for a varied number of reasons starting from blackmail to revenge.
And if you think boys are safe. You are so wrong. Check out these recent news articles which show how boys were blackmailed.
Article: Sextortion news independent.co.uk
How to prevent sextortion and blackmail?
Here are the few tips that the hacking world team has curated just to show how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones:
1) Cover webcams
The simplest and most straightforward solution is to put a removable sticker or tape over your webcam when you are not using it. If you have a separate webcam, then turn it off when you are not using it. Disconnect the camera. Turn off your laptop when not in use.
2) Supervise children’s computer or device usage
Set up parental controls. With the help of parental control, you can monitor and see what your child is doing. Another tip great tip is to instruct kids to keep computers and tablets in common rooms where adults are present. Devices like phones are a bit complicated to control as kids carry these with them. The best you can do is educate them on how to use it properly. But parents of teenagers can tell you; this is not exactly the age where they listen to what parents have to say. Disabling the camera or using parental control is a great idea to tackle this problem.
3)Use strong and secure passwords
Using your friends or your crushes name is not the way to select passwords. Passwords need to be complicated so that they do not get hacked. In many cases, girls are blackmailed by their accounts getting hacked by hackers because they did not use a strong password. All social media passwords should be complicated and secure.
4) Verify with senders before opening attachments.
Be careful when you get messages from strangers. Be it email or social media. Always make sure who the sender is. Talk to your parents if you are unsure. It is better to be safe than sorry. Never open email attachments unless you know who sent them. Email attachments are the number one source of the virus in the world.
5) Update all your software.
Using outdated software is the number 1 reason for hackers hacking your devices. The versions are updated with security patches with major fix issues regarding your device. If it is not updated, then your device can be hacked and compromised. Make sure you only install apps from trusted sources like apple store and play store on your mobile devices.
6) Use a firewall and anti-malware software.
There are many good antivirus and antimalware software which have firewalls as well as other protection mechanisms. Some antivirus like quick heal can even detect if some application is trying to access your camera and warns you if that is the case. By using such apps for security, you can help protect your family as well.·
7) Talk with your kids
The main issue with today’s generation is the generation gap dilemma. Parents try to avoid the topic of sex education with there kids. It is essential to keep an open mind while communicating with your children. They need to understand that parents are here to help you; there is no need to be scared of asking for help. Let your children know they can come to you without fear. The targets of these crimes are victims, no matter what they did or how they responded to the threat. Do not mistreat your children, especially when it comes to the topic of sex education.
8) Never take your phone in places where you are exposed.
Taking your phone with you while taking a bath is a bad idea. Never do that. If you are changing clothes, do not change them in front of a laptop or a phone. Make sure to stay safe. These might seem like little things but are quite helpful in the long run. Make sure to keep the camera away.
9) Check for cameras
Always check for cameras in changing rooms and public toilets. You should always beware of your surroundings. Check all corners as well as locations where you think something is hidden. Many cameras are hidden under the basin and in corners of changing rooms etc. Take precautions for such things so that you never end in trouble later down the line. This applies to everyone, not only the ladies.
When proper actions are taken for security and privacy, you can be safe from such crimes and sextortion. Also, teens with a good sense of self-worth and a proper family support system are less likely to fall victim to such extortion demands and can report whenever something even remotely fishy happens. If you can be a source of support and validation for your children, they are more likely to report crimes before damage has been done. Please be supportive of your children. Support them with love and care. Not fear.