Privacy Perils: Email Extortion – WFH Edition

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Helpful Privacy Tips When Working from Home

Whether you know it or not, the password associated with your email address on at least one of your online accounts likely is available on the dark web for sale, possibly included in a “password dump.” Scams have surfaced periodically where the victim will receive an email from someone claiming to have photo or video evidence of the victim engaged in some type of embarrassing or inappropriate conduct. These scams have seen a resurgence now that WFH has increased the use of video conferencing (see our previous Privacy Peril on Background Awareness).

In the email, the fraudster will use the purchased password to convince the victim of the legitimacy of the hoax and demand a ransom, payable in bitcoin, or the incriminating evidence will be published. If a victim is contacted by one of such fraudsters, they should not pay. It is extremely unlikely the scammer has any such evidence; instead, he is simply playing off the victim’s fears, heightened by recent news reports of Zoom and other conferencing services security breaches.

This latest iteration of the extortion scam is a reminder not to use the same password across multiple sites, and to change passwords regularly, especially after a vendor breach.

And if you need any greater comfort, electrical (not Scotch®) tape over your laptop camera will do the trick.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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