The FBI has released a public service announcement regarding extortion attempts via email. From the PSA:
The recipients are told that personal information, such as their name, phone number, address, credit card information, and other personal details, will be released to the recipient’s social media contacts, family, and friends if a ransom is not paid. The recipient is instructed to pay in Bitcoin, a virtual currency that provides a high degree of anonymity to the transactions. The recipients are typically given a short deadline.
With the current exchange rate, 2 to 5 bitcoins is approximately $1,100 to $2,900.
These emails are not much different than ordinary phishing attempts. It’s unlikely that the person on the other end actually has any information. The FBI has provided a few tips to protect yourself from these scams.
- Do not open e-mail or attachments from unknown individuals.
- Do not communicate with the subject.
- Do not store sensitive or embarrassing photos of yourself online or on yourmobile devices.
- Use strong passwords and do not use the same password for multiplewebsites.
- Ensure security settings for social media accounts are turned on and set atthe highest level of protection.
- When providing personally identifiable information, credit cardinformation, or other sensitive information to a website, ensure the transmission is secure by verifying the URL prefix includes https, or the status bar displays a “lock” icon.
If you receive one of these emails, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.