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Cyber Extortion For Dummies

What is Cyber Extortion

Technology development is a two way street. It not just bring lot of merits but also poses various  threats along with it. One such threat is- Cyber Extortion.

Cyber Extortion is the new age crime where instead of a person, the data and system are hold for a threat or probable usurp. Cyber Extortion is not just a threat but often an irreversible attack that will not just seize the controls of your system but all the files, pictures inside it.

In simple words, Cyber Extortion is an Internet based crime where the hacker / attacker threat to attack your system against a ransom. The attacker demands you an exhorbitant sum of money in lieu of the attack. Yes, it is same like kidnapping and general extortion. 

The sum demanded usually starts from meagre Rs 25,000 [of an individual system] to millions [enterprise] depending upon the scale of business. The identity of the attacker is often unverified or unknown. The payment is often sought in terms of Bitcoins. However, there is a feeble guarantee that the attacker will not demand increased sum of money in future or you would be able to restore your system/ data post the payment.



Types of Cyber Extortiom

While there are different types of cyber extortions, some of the prominent ones are-

1) Distributed Denial of Service: essentialy on the websites wherein the websites stop functioning, causing business and customer losses

2) Data Compromise: Threat to reveal or release your data, pictures. A la "I know what you did last summer/winter and do not want to tell the world" types. Sometimes, the hacker/attacker plants an objectionable file like child porn or gory in your system and threat to expose it as yours. Why? cause you would have clicked that link which enticed your harmones but wasn't safe or right to surf. Sometimes, it is done via trying to download any file or app from the web. The hacker always thinks two steps ahead of a developer. 

3) Ransomware: The most appalling type of extortion wherein the attacker places ransomware on your system which encrypts all your files on the system and requires a decrytion key which is at discretion of the hacker. 

It is akin to kidnap in real life or as seen in Bollywood movies where the attacker force you to pay exhorbitant sum of money in exchange of releasing that child/ hero's girlfriend [in cyber parlance- your data and your accessibility] and yet does not honor inspite of fund collection/ acceptance of demands.

Ransomware is one of the most horrid yet common type of cyber extortion. Read more about it and my personal experience here.



How to Prevent Cyber Extortion

1) Keep Your Records Clean: This is the most important method derived from the adage- prevention is better than cure. You can practise this by avoiding malpractice of any kind like filing your IT with utmost honesty, not uploading any sensitive pictures

2) Timely Backup- Keep your system clean and backup all the important files on a regular basis. So even if a ransomware corrupts the files on your system, you can get your system restored and files available even after the system reformatting. 

3) Don't Fall prey to Phishing: Avoid clicking malicious and unauthentic links. You may receive many ludicrous email like you won a lottery or share your password to claim your prize etc, just avoid opening such links. Do not navigate into unknown website or download unverified software/app from unverified sources. 

4) Active User over Passive Keeper: Keep Your Operating System and security patches upto date

5) Avoid Objectionable content: Avoid Posting nude or objectionable pictures or sharing with anyone. Remember once you have shared something on Internet, it always remains there even if you have deleted it after posting. 

6) Clutter Free: Clean your System cache files and history every week

7) Password Sensitivity: Change Your Passwords on a regular basis and avoid using obvious details in password like your DOB, pet name, spouse name  etc.

Always remember, a little security goes a long way. Throwing caution to winds may sound romantic but may be brutual for your data/gadget. There is a limit to the help you may get from the existing Cyber cell and the enforcement. And succumbing to hacker's demand is not a solution but may make the bad go worse for you. 

At the risk of repeating myself, prevention is better than cure when it comes to cyber crimes. 

[You May Also like to Read:  An Insurance for Cyber Extortion]

Hope this article was useful and made a good read. Let me know your views in the comment box below. Do not worry, this is a verified blog and does not use any kind of threatening content or links :)

Stay Safe, Stay Protected
Ekta

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