A clever online scam that’s been around for years has seen a resurgence in Hertfordshire in the last few weeks – because everyone’s using their webcams more.
The so-called “sextortion” scam fools staff into thinking they’ve been filmed by their own webcam while visiting adult websites.
Some choose to pay up to £1,000 in Bitcoin to prevent the videos being released.
“But these videos don’t actually exist,” explained Paul Griffin, a data security expert at GCIS.
“It’s just a clever bluff being emailed to millions of people at the same time. You can remove any fear it’s real with a simple webcam cover that just costs £3”.
This is typically how the scam goes down:
- You get an unsolicited email from a scammer claiming to have a webcam video recording of you browsing the web during your personal time
- It’s not specific about what has been recorded, which means you jump to your own conclusion
- The scam email also contains your password, which makes it seem more likely you’ve been hacked. This password is more likely to have come from a breached website
- The criminals demand payment in Bitcoin to prevent the video from being released
“Every laptop and phone released these days have built in webcams,” Paul said.
“It is possible for the cameras to be operated without people realising it – although this is rare.
“The scammers are playing a psychological game, and it makes us angry when we can see they have won.”
Paul’s business GCIS has issued this guidance to its clients:
- Fit sliding webcam covers to all devices
- Reset all passwords using a random generator, and use a password manager to keep track of them easily
- Never panic if you get a scammy email. Talk to a data security expert who sees this sort of thing every day and can offer invaluable context
GCIS was formed in 2001, and now looks after hundreds of local businesses in the Hertfordshire area.