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Online blackmail scams are increasing, warns CyberSecurity Malaysia

AvantiKumar | April 3, 2015
In the first three months of this year, we have noted an increase of a 'Cyber Blackmail Scam' using pre-recorded webcam videos on social media, said CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab.

Dr. Amirudin Abdul Wahab, CEO, CyberSecurity Malaysia 

Photo - Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia.

 

The first three months of 2015 has seen an increase of a 'Cyber Blackmail Scam' using pre-recorded webcam videos on social media such as Facebook, according to national online security specialist agency CyberSecurity Malaysia.

Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab, chief executive officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia, said the agency has issued an official alert to all Internet users in Malaysia.

"We have been observing an increase number of cyber blackmail scam incidents, which involves blackmailing and extorting victims for money in this first quarter of 2015," said Dr Amirudin. "Between January till March this year, 25 incidents of cyber blackmail scam have already been reported to Cyber999 help centre compared to 21 incidents in Q1 2014 and more users may fall into victims if proper mitigations are not in practice."

A total of 121 incidents on cyber blackmail scam were reported to Cyber999 Help Centre in 2014, he said.

Dr Amirudin said a "Cyber Blackmail" scam "usually started with a perpetrator, 'tagged' as a beautiful, sexy woman supposedly from the Philippines, Japan or Korea, connected with a potential victims through social media, mainly Facebook."

"The perpetrator will then ask the victim to video chat with "her" using the Skype application and with attractive words attempt to further lure the victim," he said, adding that the perpetrator will actually use pre-recorded webcam videos to fake their real identity.

During the apparently genuine live conversation online, the perpetrator will record an "unpleasant video of the victim without the victim's knowledge and use it to extort the victim further by threatening to make it public on YouTube, or social networking sites or threaten to direct it to the victim's family or friends."

 Main targets
 
Dr Amirudin, said, "Malaysians Internet users will then continue to be victims, and continue to be threatened with having the compromising videos released on YouTube, and other social networking sites, if they do not pay the amount demanded within a certain period of time."

He said that based on Cyber999 data, the victims tend to be teenagers to middle-aged men. "We suspect the perpetrators are male foreigners operating the scam from various locations. The scam uses social networking sites like Facebook, Tagged and online video chats such as Skype to carry out their activities."

The scam has also targeted victims around the world, added Dr Amirudin, and that Malaysian Internet users are advised to exercise caution when befriending people online.

Other security suggestions are that:

  • Internet users are advised to adhere to best practices and ethics when they are online on social networking sites and online chatting
  • Internet users should be careful when accepting online 'friend' requests
  • Be alert and suspicious of unusual activities on the net and immediately report it to relevant authorities
  • Configure your Skype to restrict communication with your contact list only - Go to > Tools > Options > Privacy > Only Allow IMs, Calls etc. from People on my Contact List > SAVE
  • Always make sure your software and systems are up-to-date, and that you are using up-to-date security software
  • Be always aware that anything you do on the internet, including video and voice calls, can be recorded and manipulated for malicious purposes
  • Never use your webcam to video call someone you do not know

 

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