How not to be the victim of cyber extortion

by Dec 14, 2022Cybersecurity0 comments

Today many people are taking steps to protect themselves and their data as these are very crucial things because the crime called cyber extortion is a growing threat in today’s digital world. 

The purpose of this article is to explain to you the different types of cyber extortion, the consequences, and what you can do to prevent it so you can protect yourself and your family and we all can avoid becoming a victim of cyber extortion.

 

What is Cyber extortion?

Cyber extortion is a form of cybercrime whereby the perpetrators threaten to sabotage the victim’s operation or take sensitive information from the victim’s system unless a payment is made. 

Often these threats are delivered by email and often aim to exchange payment which is requested in the form of Bitcoin or any Currency. 

However, the two most popular forms of cyber extortion are ransomware and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. 

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer system and encrypts the data, preventing access until a ransom is paid. 

On the other hand, DDoS attacks involve flooding a server or network with requests so that it becomes overloaded and ceases to function. 

Businesses need to be aware of these threats and take steps to protect themselves from becoming victims of cyber extortion. 

This includes having robust cybersecurity systems in place, making regular backups of data, and educating staff on the dangers of cyber extortion. 

Additionally, businesses should make sure they have a response plan ready in case they become the target of a cyber extortion attack because having such a plan will enable them to respond quickly and effectively, potentially reducing the impact of the attack.

 

Steps to protect yourself from being a victim of cyber extortion

Below, are steps that you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim of cyber extortion: 

  1. Keep Your Software Up to Date: You may be surprised at the number of software vulnerabilities that exist on your computer right now. These vulnerabilities often have known solutions that, if applied, will significantly reduce your risk of exposure to malware and viruses. 
  1. Be Vigilant With Your Passwords: One of the most common ways for hackers to gain access to personal information is through password guessing or brute-force attacks. If you choose an easy-to-guess password like password123 or 123456 then you should change it immediately because your data could easily fall into the wrong hands. 
  1. Update Old Computers And Devices To Stay Safe: Outdated computers and devices present an opportunity for hackers to use weaknesses in old operating systems and exploit them for their benefit. 
  1. Have Multiple Strong Passwords For Every Account: It’s crucial to remember that when it comes to passwords, strength matters. Weak passwords such as 1234 or password may seem easier to remember but these simple words are extremely easy for hackers to guess; avoid using any dictionary word, since many people will use those words by default. 
  1. Create Unique Usernames To Avoid Identity Theft: It’s important to create unique usernames across all social media platforms and other online accounts because username collisions happen frequently; never reuse the same username across multiple websites, apps, or accounts. 
  1. Always Use Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a process that requires two separate means of identification before granting access to a digital account. 2FA is recommended for anyone who wishes to better secure their account against attack or theft, especially when the service does not offer multi-factor authentication. 
  1. Check Privately Posted Pictures On Social Media Sites: Many hackers nowadays post personally identifiable photos online with hopes of embarrassing the subject to extort funds from them. 

Ensure you do your best to check privately posted pictures on social media sites before posting anything publically just as you would do with emails so that your photos don’t end up being shared without your knowledge 

  1. Don’t Reuse Passwords Across Different Accounts: Reusing passwords across different accounts exposes you to increased risks because if one account gets hacked then they all do. 
  1. Install Antivirus And Anti-malware Programs: Keeping your device protected from unwanted intruders is vital in ensuring that no hackers get ahold of your data. 
  1. Take Advantage Of Cloud Storage Services: Instead of storing data on your device, consider storing it in the cloud to keep it away from potential threats and you may want to try having at least two backups of everything.

 

How does cyber extortion happen?

Cyber extortion happens in many ways like when a person is tricked into filling out his or her confidential information like her name, date of birth, and all other necessary information that gives cybercriminals access to mess up with the victim’s accounts. 

There are many popular forms of extortion, however, this kind is the most common, by which hackers use to obtain sensitive information and this is through email phishing attacks, where the victim is tricked into clicking on a malicious link or attachment containing the ransomware. 

These emails often appear to be from legitimate sources and are often sent from email addresses that appear to be familiar. 

Once the malicious code is downloaded onto the victim’s computer, it begins to encrypt files and demand payment to decrypt them. 

Hackers may also use other tactics, such as malware and malicious websites, to gain access to a victim’s data. 

To protect yourself from being a victim of cyber extortion, it is important to practice good online security habits. 

Ensure that your computer and networks are protected by updated anti-virus software and firewalls, and be cautious when opening emails or attachments, even if they appear to come from someone you know. 

Additionally, you should ensure that you can share personal or financial information over the internet, but make the site keep your passwords safe by using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.

 

What are the consequences of cyber extortion?

When it comes to cyber extortion, the consequences can be severe as most cyber extortionists often threaten to leak or delete sensitive data or cause harm to a business’s systems and network if their demands aren’t met. 

These threats are meant to intimidate victims into paying the ransom, but there is no guarantee that the cybercriminal won’t follow through on their threats. 

The financial costs of cyber extortion can be significant and not only may the victim be forced to pay the ransom demand, but they may also have to invest in restoring any affected systems or lost data, as well as pay for additional security measures to protect against future attacks. 

When a cyber extortion attack becomes exposed publicly, any victimized company’s popularity and solidarity would be at a very high risk. 

And this is bad for future potential customers who want to work with the company based on the company’s reputation but because of extortion history many customers would feel reluctant to do business with them. 

And currently, many companies rely on digital means for the building and retaining of customers, so even a minor event of cyber extortion has the power to result in devastating outcomes for the company.

 

What is a real-life example of extortion?

One of the most common forms of cyber extortion is to threaten someone on the release of embarrassing or damaging information unless they pay a ransom. 

One such example is when an ex-partner threatens to post nude photographs online unless the other party unblocks their phone number. 

In case you don’t know this before, the above type of cyber extortion is an example of blackmail, which is illegal in most jurisdictions and carries serious penalties if convicted. 

When faced with this type of situation, it is important to remember that giving in to the demands of a cyber extorter can be dangerous and can put you at risk for further abuse. It is important to reach out to law enforcement and get help from experts who specialize in cyber extortion cases. 

Also, make sure to keep all evidence and details of the incident so that it can be used in court if needed. Remember that no one deserves to be extorted and there are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

 

Conclusion

If you and all the people all over the world understand the methods used by cybercriminals and are ready to take the steps required to protect ourselves and our data, we all can avoid becoming a victim of cyber extortion. 

Also investing in security measures such as firewalls and encryption software can help keep most of our online data safe and secure. 

So to protect ourselves right, we all need to educate ourselves and others on how to spot potential threats that can help prevent cyber extortion from occurring in the first place. 

And from what you have read in this article today you can admit that with a few simple steps, you can protect yourself against cyber extortion and ensure that your data is kept safe and secure.

 

 

ybersecurity for businesses has grown increasingly crucial as more people worldwide work remotely. Today many businesses regardless of size are using and understand the importance of cybersecurity to the success of their business. 

One of the most important advantages of cybersecurity is that it helps businesses save money and time. In this article, we will buttress the ways your business can save money and time with cybersecurity 

 

Why Cybersecurity is Important for Businesses

Your money, data, and IT equipment are all at risk from cyberattacks. Suppose a hacker gains access to your network. In that case, they may discover information that allows them to: obtain customer lists, a customer’s credit card number, Details of your company’s banking, pricing policy, product concepts, production procedures, and additional forms of intellectual property. 

Cyberattacks endanger more than just your business. Hackers can utilize your network as a launching pad into the networks of other businesses whose supply chains your company participates in. That will in turn cost you money and damage your reputation. 

 

10 Ways Businesses Can Save Money and Time with Cybersecurity

Here are five strategies businesses can use to cut costs and save time with cybersecurity: 

  • Clean up the software not in use

One way businesses can save money from cybersecurity is by cleaning software that is not in use. Having many software applications can lead to a cyberattack. Minimalism is key. 

Review the software you’re presently using and see what may be removed before beginning to install anything new. If a piece of software isn’t necessary for you and you need to fully trust it, it may be time to let it go. 

Cleaning up helps you organize which in turn ensures that you will spend less time looking for the apps you need and that your computer will run faster and smoother. 

  • Automatically update your system to fix vulnerabilities

Updating your system automatically saves you time and the pain of dealing with cyberattacks. It is advisable to install a system patching program that updates vulnerable software to the most recent versions. You do not need to assign an employee to do it. Just let them install the software, then let it handle everything. Relax!

It is important not to ignore those updates that can only be updated manually. Make them a priority. Set a reminder, and make a list. Don’t forget it. 

  • Keep your data safe with automatic back-ups

Regularly backing up your business data is a sure way to save money, time, and tears with cybersecurity. It is the first vital step toward recovery in the event of a cyber-attack. You can access vital information from distant locations when you use cloud storage to back up business data, financial documents, and client files. This also helps to reduce the expense of downtime. 

There are two simple ways  to regularly and safely back up your data;

picking out support (an external drive or the cloud – it is advisable to use both)

selecting backup software that will perform automatic data backups following a defined schedule. 

  • Train employees

Human error is one of the top causes of cyberattacks. Any business person who wants to save money and time must train their staff. 

A well-trained workforce that knows its way around the internet will be more likely to save you from cyber-attacks than untrained professionals. Frequent seminars and training should help employees to stay in the loop of new security developments, attack trends, and ways to address a crisis. 

  • Cybersecurity automation

The majority of cybersecurity operations typically include human involvement. However, many of these tasks can be done without human intervention, such as adding machine-based threat intelligence to monitoring and detection systems to programmatically identify potential issues, assign levels of urgency to them, and then alert stakeholders to enable timely response to cyber threats. 

The detection of threats already present on your network, data extraction, and collection for reporting, automatic software updates, and finding and classifying sensitive data, are just a few additional areas that could benefit from cybersecurity automation. 

Automation offers a lower chance of error, improves decision-making, and is efficient and economical. Additionally, because it is always available. It can also help many cybersecurity teams fill the talent gap that currently exists in the industry. 

  • Secure browser

The browser is by far the most popular way for cybercriminals to infect users around the world. Therefore, you should change your settings to ensure that you and your staff are secure when working or browsing the internet leisurely. 

  • Outsource wisely

At first thought, It does not sound like a decent concept to outsource some of your IT security to a third-party vendor at a discounted rate, however, it can work but only if you do your homework first. 

Verified cyber security professionals keep an eye on your network, apply patches, do risk analyses, and deal with sophisticated cyberattacks daily. Ensure that you choose cyber security professionals who have the same goal as your business, have a good track record and are offering what your business needs. 

  • Make sure there are fewer false positives.

Saving time and resources requires a system that provides more accurate, actionable data with fewer false positives. Since there may be tens of thousands or more possible threats every day, security staff engaged in monitoring cannot be expected to respond to each one. To maximize human resources and avoid alert fatigue they must respond to what is urgent, real, and significant. 

  • Learn about cyber security

Even if settings and tools are useful, they cannot function as well without people. The most effective approach to using cybersecurity is to know its basics.

Only a cyber security education can provide you with the knowledge you need to know where to click and where not to click, what security features to look for in an online store, how to spot phishing scams, and how to tell if your computer might be infected. 

It would be simpler for you to comprehend how cybercriminals and their strategies change over time if you pick up the necessary abilities immediately. This will give you a competitive edge, safeguard you from online threats at work and at home, and help you teach your staff about it. 

You might unintentionally be impacted if their data spills, so it’s crucial to understand how to handle such a circumstance. The majority of people will panic and react emotionally to a situation that should be addressed cautiously and sensibly. 

Saving money and time with cybersecurity requires a proper combination of cybersecurity solutions that helps to accomplish in addition to human behaviour.

It is important to note that anyone who has access to and uses the internet should be knowledgeable about cybersecurity. 

  • Create a cyber security system for all you have

Cyberattacks occur at an alarmingly high pace and more frequently than you might expect since everyone is online. Due to this, there are possibly more items that need protecting than you realize. 

Here is a very brief list: 

  • Your primary email address, which you used to open your most significant accounts (such as social media accounts)
  • Your online banking profile and all of the data you have there
  • Your online shopping account, where you most likely saved your credit card details to expedite checkout. It could be Amazon, AliExpress, or others.
  • Your cloud account, where you keep information for personal or commercial use (or both).
  • All the above-mentioned contain sensitive information and should be safeguarded. By safeguarding your data and finances, you may conduct daily business without worrying that your privacy may be violated or that your system may be compromised. 

Here are the essential tools you will need to secure your system; 

  • a reliable antivirus program. Please do not use free antivirus programs. It’s a waste of time.
  • a cutting-edge anti-hacking program that can shield you from sophisticated malware attacks and keep your software updated.
  • a trustworthy VPN (a virtual private network)
  • a password manager application 

There are both free and paid alternatives to these products, but we highly recommend you invest in the paid ones for a simple reason: the technology and intelligence behind the paid products will always be more reliable than the ones embedded in a free product. 

By preventing a cyber attack, you can avoid having to change all of your passwords, assess the losses, get in touch with your bank to update your login information, justify to your boss why you leaked important work-related information, or, worse, why your entire hard drive is encrypted and you are unable to access any of your data.

 

Conclusion

Cybersecurity is crucial for any business that wants to survive in the 21st century. The lack of cybersecurity can cause a business to lose money, time, and reputation. The truth is that your odds of surviving a cyberattack or its effects, whether it targets you directly or your business, are better the earlier you start investing in cybersecurity technologies and knowledge. 

Hopefully, you’ll put these tips to use and discover for yourself that, once set up, cybersecurity doesn’t have to be a hassle and can save you tears, time, and money.

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