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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Maharashtra: Many get extortion threats after visits to porn websites, police cyber wing urges caution

Officials from Maharashtra Cyber, which is the cyber crime and cyber security wing of Maharashtra Police, said that a large number of people, likely to be in hundreds, are suspected to have received such mails till now.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune | May 1, 2020 8:59:39 pm
Maharashtra: Many get extortion threats after visits to porn websites, police cyber wing urges caution Maharashtra Cyber has issued a set of steps to be followed if one receives such an email. (Representational Image)

The Maharashtra Police’s cyber crime unit has revealed that during the nearly 40-day period of nationwide lockdown, a large number of people have been subjected to online extortion threats from hackers, who claim to have access to personal data of the target and demand money, in many cases in bitcoins. These mails threaten to make public the details of websites accessed by the target, which in many cases are pornographic websites, officials said.

Police have appealed people not to fall prey to such messages and maintain ‘cyber hygiene’ to ensure that one is not targeted again.

Officials from Maharashtra Cyber, which is the cyber crime and cyber security wing of Maharashtra Police, said that a large number of people, likely to be in hundreds, are suspected to have received such mails till now. Most of these are working professionals, businessmen and elderly persons. But only 50-odd people have come forward and none have registered first information reports. Officials have observed a significant rise in the number of such mails being received by users during the lockdown, on account of increased time spent by people online and an observed trend of increased usage of pornographic websites.

A message received by a person in Maharashtra, as shared by a cyber police official, read, “I am aware that ****** is your password. I have placed a malware on adult video website and there is more. You visited this website to experience fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching video clips, your browser started out working as a RDP (remote control desktop) having a keylogger which gave me accessibility to your display screen and web cam, and made a double-screen video. First part displays the video you were watching (you’ve got a nice taste lmao), and next part displays the recording of your cam. What should you do? Well, in my opinion, $2900 is a reasonable price for our little secret. You will make the payment through Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search ‘how to buy bitcoin’ in Google).”

The messages further threaten to send the video to all contacts in the target’s contact list, which, as the mail claims, has been accessed by the perpetrator.

Superintendent of Police with Maharashtra Cyber, Dr Balsing Rajput, said, “These messages are very common and have been reported earlier too. Scamsters send such messages in large numbers and few targets fall prey to it. But if one is aware and maintains ‘cyber hygiene’, then one can stay protected. These are online extortion mails. Many a times data breach happens when users visit certain websites, including pornographic ones, which have tracker systems. In such situations, cyber criminals get sensitive data of the users. Such data is later used for criminal activities like extortion mails. Mainly, the username, password and contact list is misused.”

Maharashtra Cyber has issued a set of steps to be followed if one receives such an email. The steps are, “Change the password of the email account and also password of the recovery mail address. Activate two-factor authentication for your email. It means if someone tries to log into your email account, then SMS or one time password will come to your mobile. Install antivirus on your laptop or mobile. Scan your laptop and mobile for virus. See, if any application which is not downloaded by you is in it. If that’s the case, then delete it or uninstall those items. If you are using email through the mobile device, then always check application settings and permissions given to various applications. If any new application, which you have not downloaded, is there, then uninstall it. Clear the browser cache regularly and don’t save passwords in browser.”

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