What Are Sextors?
Understand what sextors are, how it happens, and how to protect yourself from this increasingly growing virtual crime.
Do you know what sextors are? Also known as virtual rape, the term sextortion is the result of the combination of the words “sex” and “extortion.” Characterized as a kind of cyber crime, “sextorting” is when someone maliciously has access to third party personal materials – such as “nudes” and intimate videos – and threatens to post them on the Internet in exchange for money or favors.
“Most of the time, blackmail is done by people close to the victim or who she has had some kind of intimate relationship with, such as an ex-boyfriend. But the crime can also be committed by hackers who gain access to the user’s cell phone or computer.” Explains Emilio Simoni, director of dfndr lab, PSafe’s digital security lab.
Women Are the Main Victims
Virtual rape is growing and becoming increasingly common on the internet. According to the experts, 40.9% of sextortion victims are girls and women, who can suffer serious consequences from exposure, such as embarrassment, financial damage, and even depression. This is because cybercriminals disclose the victim’s intimate content to people in their social life, such as friends and family.
How Do Sextors Strike?
Cybercriminals are always aware of new user behaviors in the digital world. They see the vulnerabilities of their potential victims as opportunities to create new attacks. Therefore, Simoni stresses that you need to be aware of what sextors are and how are the various tactics used to apply it.
Social engineering is widely used in sextortion. It is the main method that scammers use to gain trust and persuade someone. “This kind of strategy is advantageous to the perpetrator because it is much easier to convince people to relinquish their data and intimate content than to have the trouble of hacking it,” says Simoni. After getting the content, the hacker starts asking for amounts of money not to disclose the compromising materials. The victim, being emotionally vulnerable, gives in to blackmail more easily.
This type of practice is characterized by sending emails with flashy headlines that are hard to ignore. Some of these emails may contain fake offers or giveaways and upon access, the victim is hacked. “These attacks are often used by hackers because they go viral quickly, as victims unknowingly share the scam with their friends,” Simoni says.
Fake profiles are not new, and you have probably interacted with some. Photos and videos are constantly being targeted by malicious people, and with scammers, it’s no different. Scammers use social engineering and usually try the romantic approach. Therefore, too attractive profiles, such as successful, widowed, and sometimes claiming to be handsome military men, may conceal a false identity.
What Measures Are Needed to Protect Yourself?
Shame, lack of knowledge, and fear are the main weapons of criminals. The dfndr lab experts have come up with some steps to keep your intimate life safe on the internet.
- Don’t send photos or personal content over the internet
- The internet allows scammers to remain anonymous, so don’t believe everyone you know online. Be wary of people approaching you through social networks, especially if they ask for financial help or access to information or photos of you.
- If you often access your email from your phone, increase your attention. There are cyber attacks designed exclusively to infect smartphones, so it’s vital to remain aware. “Ideally, use an antivirus that offers complete protection. Dfndr security, for example, sends you alerts whenever you receive or access a malicious link, a phishing scam, or if there’s an attempt to clone your WhatsApp, ”explains Simoni. You can download dfndr security for free here.
- Enable security mechanisms such as two-factor authentication. So even if a hacker finds your password, they still won’t be able to access your important accounts.
- It’s very important to report cases of sextors that happen to people you know or to you directly. Appeal to Internet companies such as social networks, and Google to remove content that violates privacy and is online harassment. If you are a victim, always report the crime to the local and authoriites and review state cyber-stalking and cybercrime laws. There are avenues for you take action.