The Internet proved itself to be one of the best things that’s ever happened in people’s lives. Long distance communication, looking for specific information, and sharing your experiences has never been easier. However, this comes with its disadvantages. Some are just petty and annoying like Internet trolls, while some could be damaging like cyber extortion.
What Is Cyber Extortion?
Cyber extortions happen when someone infiltrates your computer, tries to take control of it or steal your data, and then demands money from you usually in the form of bitcoin. If you don’t give what they demand, they would do something to harm you by hacking the information in your computer.
Types of Cyber Extortions
- Distributed Denial of Service – Cyber extortionists threaten to flood ecommerce or blog sites with traffic that the website can’t handle and cause it to crash which can cause the customers to think that the website is unreliable or unsafe.
- Hitman Extortion – A “murderer” will tip you that someone wants to get you or someone you love killed. They will ask for a higher amount of money than what their bosses supposedly offered them in exchange for your life.
- Online Dating Extortion – Cyber extortionists might create a fake profile on online dating websites, gain your trust, ask for intimate photos or videos, and then use those against you. If “the one” seems to good to be true, they probably are.
- Database Ransom Attack – Cyber extortionists will hack your database, steal some data, and demand some money or else you won’t get the missing files back.
Why Is It Important For You To Know About Cyber Extortion?
Because It Directly Affects You
Ignorance is not always bliss. Having no idea what cyber extortion is, is what makes you an easy target. You’re exposed to the immediate threats because you don’t know what to do in case it happens to you. It’s not one of those things that you can turn a blind eye on just because you think it won’t happen to you.
Well, guess what? Everyone is at risk. Even huge companies that pay lots for online security measures can become victims so a regular Internet user like you can easily become a target.
So You Can Protect Yourself
Here are a few ways on how you can protect yourself from future cyber extortionist attacks:
- Secure Your Website
Website owners, especially those who make money through it like online shops, are potential targets. If you own, for example, a WordPress website, you have to secure the HTTPS certificate and set up strong passwords.
- Install Antivirus and Antispyware
This software can help you protect your private information against cybercriminals. Make sure that you regularly update those to ensure that you have the utmost protection. It’s a small price to pay compared to what cyber extortionists might ask from you.
- Backup Important Data
Cyber extortionists sometime steal private data. Data loss could significantly damage your website which will be difficult and tedious to build back up. You’ll have to start everything from scratch if you don’t have a backup.
So You Know What To Do In Case It Happens To You
First, make sure that the threat is real. Some cyber extortionists bluff to scare you and then trick you into doing what they want. Experienced hackers can take control of your computer, but maybe you should ask experts first to determine whether it’s possible for that person threatening you to follow through with what they plan.
Second, determine whether the threat is actually damaging. Like, how bad would it be for you if your private videos are exposed? Is there even really anything you’re keeping in your computer that you don’t ever want the world to see?
Third, report it to the proper authorities. You should never handle matters like cyber extortion on your own. Even if the attacker insisted on never calling the cops, let someone know as soon as possible. If you don’t, you’ll only let fear override your thoughts and you may give in to their demands.
The online world opened up a lot of good things for us. However, like Pandora’s box, it’s not only the good things that came out but also the bad stuff. But honestly, for something as global as the Internet, no one should expect that it won’t come with consequences. The good news is, there’s hope in the form of cybersecurity.