Data breaches used as basis for extortion

Not ransomware, but related in that it clearly involves extortion/blackmail: the FBI has issued an alert about Extortion E-Mail Schemes Tied To Recent High-Profile Data Breaches. The threatening messages arrive in the wake of a flood of revelations of high-profile data thefts. The ready availability of stolen credentials is used by crooks to convince victims that they have information that will be released to friends ‘and family members (and perhaps even your employers too)’ unless a payment of 2-5 bitcoins is received.

The generic nature of some of the messages quoted by the FBI doesn’t suggest that the scammer has any real knowledge of the targets or of information that relates to them.

‘If you think this amount is too high, consider how expensive a divorce lawyer is. If you are already divorced then…’

This sounds more like mass mailouts in the hope that some will reach a target sufficiently guilt-ridden to pay up just in case. Other messages may well frighten some people, fearful of being ‘doxed’, into paying up in case their personally-identifiable information falls into the wrong hands.

David Harley

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