Sextortion: Ransomware Invades the Bedroom



Data breaches and hacking incidents have become a common occurrence in the connected world. Recently, a distributed denial-of-service attack temporarily blocked access to websites for internet users along the U.S. East Coast. There were more than 780 data breaches reported by organizations in 2015 and hacking incidents accounted for almost 38 percent of them. 

But, why do hackers hack? Some do it for money and others do it just for fun. According to a 2014 survey at the Black Hat conference, more than half of hackers said they did it for the “lulz.” Although hacking may be a source of entertainment for some hackers, it can have serious consequences for the victims, including stolen identities, lost jobs and lawsuits. Additionally, hackers can take advantage of the invasion of privacy in a horrifying manner, as exemplified in an episode of the dystopian TV drama, Black Mirror: extortion.

In the episode, Shut Up and Dance, a shy teenager installs a malware remover to clean up his laptop. However, hackers gain access to his laptop webcam and records him at his most private moments. Threatening to release the video to his friends and family, the hackers force the teenager and other victims to do everything and anything they want. 

This tale of sextortion isn’t just fiction. In 2014, a collection of celebrities’ private pictures were stolen from Apple Inc.’s cloud services and posted online. According to Lawfare, sextortion an extremely common occurrence and at the core lies “the intersection of cybersecurity and sexual coercion.” It said that “for the first time in the history of the world, the global connectivity of the internet means that you don’t have to be in the same country as someone to sexually menace that person.”

To keep up with the constantly evolving world of privacy and security sign up for the Bloomberg BNA Privacy and Security Update.