In a world where everyone is so dependent on social media, apps and the Internet as a whole, it's no surprise to see cyber crime hitting new heights.
Cyber criminals keep coming up with novel ways to target vulnerable users but this new report by a security research firm comes as a real revelation.
Cyber criminals are looking at "targets" who are vulnerable to 's@xtortion'.
According a report by security research firm Digital Shadows, "The extortionist provides the user with a known password as "proof" of compromise, then claims to have video footage of the victim watching adult content online, and finally urges them to pay a ransom to a specified Bitcoin (BTC) address."
The report further highlights that the people who are targeted are relative high net-worth individuals (HNIs) and include doctors and lawyers whose LinkedIn profiles are scoured by cyber criminals.
Cyber criminals are actually, according to the report, training extortionists and even sell something called blackmail guides for as much as $10. Digital Shadows gives an example of a 's@xtortion' tactic and how it works.
Criminals start by creating a profile and then embark on an online relationship with a married man and then threatens to reveal details of the affair with his partner unless a ransom is paid.
What's more interesting is that cyber crime groups are "promising salaries averaging the equivalent of $360,000 per year to accomplices who can help them target high-worth individuals, such as company executives, lawyers and doctors with extortion scams." The salaries - based on certain conditions - can go as high as $1,080,000 per year, which is close to a whopping Rs 7.7 crore a year.
So far, according to Digital Shadows' tracking campaign, a sample of 's@xtortion' cases were found from July 2018 to February 2019. About 89,000 unique recipients faced some 792,000 extortion attempts against them.
The Digital Shadows report further reveals that "an analysis of Bitcoin wallets associated with these scams found that 's@xtortionists' could be reaping an average of $540 per victim." On an average, victims have paid Rs 39,000 to these 's@xtortionists'.