Cyber extortion is an online crime in which cybercriminals hold the confidential data of a person and then demand money so as to not expose that data to the public. The cybercriminals in cyber extortion hold sensitive data, computer systems, and websites. they blackmail the victims until they meet the demands of hackers. It mainly occurs in two forms, Ransomware attacks or stealing of sensitive data, and distributed denial of service (DDoS). These two can result in harm to a business. In simple words, cyber extortion is an attack or threat to harm sensitive data or information of a person or to a business with the demand of money payment. In most of the cases, it has been found by the police that the victims are generally trapped by cyber miscreants because of call talk recordings and video call recordings, or social media chats, and women are the miscreants in most of the men victims’ cases. A youth was blackmailed as he created his profile account on a dating app and ended up paying 1 lakh extortion money to cyber miscreants and later reported to the police when miscreants demanded more money.
How can cyber extortion affect my business?
Generally, small businesses rely on websites for their sales, and e-commerce, these types of businesses are susceptible to cyber extortion. All IT companies have chances to face cyber extortion, as they depend on online modes to generate the work and they use digital tools, online customer management software, or internal application so they are more vulnerable to cyber extortion.
Is Sextortion causing a rise in suicide?
“Sextortion occurs in different forms but mainly, it is the threat to expose private images and explicit videos of the victim, in order to make a person do something. This threat happened online mode by a stranger who met online and befriended the victim and once by the romantic partner of the victim to harass the victim. “The problem is that most victims feel embarrassed and ashamed to share it to handle it on their own. Most of cases, perpetrators who met online victims try new methods and tricks to ask for more intimate images of the victim and some other sources to obtain more images and sexual interaction. A lot of sextortion cases start with a different form of attack, which is catfishing.
“There was a case where a 19-year-old student from Pune, was blackmailed by an online fraudster who was threatening him to make his nude photos in public and the victim fell prey and gave the amount to the fraudster and ended his life due to the pressure.” These types of sextortion can cause huge losses to the victim, mentally and medically in both areas.
Research by the crime against children research center (CCRC) reported that many respondents did not seek help due to embarrassment, ashamed, and self-blame. And sextortion is causing mental and medical issues to the respondent. Generally, cybercriminals are just bluffing, they do not actually have any sensitive data just use fear of victims as a weapon against them.
The government launched a national helpline number to report any cybercrime and reporting platform for the prevention of any financial loss due to cyber fraud, Helpline No. 1930. There are other platforms like a cyber cell where anyone can file a complaint of any cybercrime, and the helpline no. is 01122232116. Cyberpeace helpline no. +91 95700 00066 and the email id firstname.lastname@example.org has been critical in providing assistance to various victims of phishing and other cyber crimes.
There are remedies given to the victims under the Indian penal code 1860, section 504 of talks about punishment for cyber extortion. And under section 354 E there is a punishment for sextortion, and any person who commits the offense of cyber sextortion shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years and can be the extent to 5 years with a fine. Also, under the code of criminal procedure, there is zero FIR concept under cognizable offense against women, it is also a speedy procedure to lodge complaints, and if talk about the information technology act 2000, the remedy is given under section 67.
Cyber extortion is a big problem in this time of the cyber world, one can identify the extortionist and there are tools to prosecute and recover the damages but there are ascertain instances where the extortionist is beyond the borders. The cyber threat will remain persistent, as nowadays there is the use of digital tools everywhere and in every business. There will be an increment of a threat if there is valuable information or data and the system. And it is can not be denied in business that there will be sensitive information, so in combating risk against cyber extortion and sextortion the first step will be raising the right tactic and immediately informing the appropriate authority of cyber crimes and to contact cyber authority because they are the responsible authorities and should be there to help and guide you in case of you find your organization under cyber threat and if you are trapped in sextortion. It will also cover up the scandal and will not amount to any financial losses.
Author:Cyber Extortion – Ms. Himanshi Soni, Intern, CyberPeace Foundation