SINGAPORE, Sept. 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A study done by
Symantec shows a hike in extortion emails over the past nine
months. According to the study, they have blocked over 300M malicious emails, most of which were
The researchers at Symantec analyzed data from the 5,000
most-seen Bitcoin addresses in May and found that 63 of those
wallets received 12.8 bitcoins through 243 transactions in a
month. The scammers, according to Symantec have earned an
average of nearly $106,240 in May
alone, making the scam hugely popular. "During this time one
bitcoin was worth approximately US$8,300, so the scammers received about
US$106,240 in total in a month. So at
an average, these scammers are earning well over US$1.2 million a year ($1,292,586)," the study stated.
"The sextortion scam is gaining popularity and it's a typical
case where someone hacks into your webcam, records intimate acts
and threatens to send the recordings to everyone in your contact
list unless you pay them several hundred dollars in Bitcoins," said
Talha Obaid, an Expert on Email
security at Symantec.
According to him, Symantec's Email Security products managed to
block nearly 300 Million of such emails from January to
May 2019. "We also blocked about 30
percent of such emails in February alone, when we saw a hike in
them," he informed while adding that apart from the mentioned
sextortion emails, many attackers also sent emails claiming to have
a recording of the user visiting an adult website. While in some
cases the attackers pretended to be a member of law enforcement who
found child pornography on the user's device.
Obaid explained that the attackers used a variation in the
messages by using PDF, jpeg and png images of Bitcoin addresses in
attachments to evade email security. The emails, according to him,
contained a password or partial phone number associated with them.
"The emails were sent to make it seem like the attackers have
access to the email."
Obaid recommends using strong passwords and email protection
technologies to protect oneself from such threats and
extortionists. "I would also advise not opening email attachments
from unknown sources," he said, before giving us a list of five
tips on how to stay safe:
Obaid's tips on securing your email password:
- Never use the same password for every website
This is mostly common sense, however, most people hardly ever
follow it. It is very important to use unique passwords for all
your different online accounts so if someone gains access into one
of your email accounts they will not be able to access your other
accounts through sheer hit and trial.
- Enable 2FA wherever it's available
Most of the responsible online services provide 2FA, read as
two-factor authentication. The first factor is the password, off
course. The second authentication factor is mostly your phone
number, and a message is promptly sent to your phone which the user
has to key in once the password is validated in the previous
screen. This makes it really hard for an adversary to take control
of your account.
- Use different email ids for different purposes
Your emails ids should be separate, have one for personal use
for friends and family, another one could be for signing into
online accounts and the third one just for professional use. So, if
an adversary gains access to your personal email id they will not
be able to access your professional emails.
- Do not click on links from unknown sources
If you don't know who the sender is no matter how tempting it
is, do not click on any links provided in the email, unless you
know its something you have signed up for and it's from an
- Delete unsolicited emails and attachment, do not open
The rule is simple if you do not know who it is coming from do
not open it. If you have not signed up for anything and you have an
email wanting to sell you something or it says you have won an
award, do not open the email or attachments in such emails as the
attachment could be a carrier for malware.
Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ: SYMC), the world's leading
cybersecurity company, helps organizations, governments and people
secure their most important data wherever it lives. Organizations
across the world look to Symantec for strategic, integrated
solutions to defend against sophisticated attacks across endpoints,
cloud and infrastructure. Likewise, a global community of more than
50 million people and families rely on Symantec's Norton suite of
products for protection at home and across all of their devices.
Symantec operates one of the world's largest civilian cyber
intelligence networks, allowing it to see and protect against the
most advanced threats. For additional information, please visit
www.symantec.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and