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computer.jpgThe Cyber Crime Unit of the Greater Sudbury Police Service wants to advise computer users, especially those accessing social networking sites, to be mindful of suspects hacking into unsuspecting victims' sites, obtaining control of the victim's internet including web cam and microphone. With that control, suspects have threatened to post compromising or personal pictures or videos involving the victims, to social sites or by sending them to parents / care givers. This type of extortion has been coined "sextortion" by cyber crime investigators in Los Angeles because what the hacker wants in return is mostly more compromising pictures or videos involving the victims who are, for the most part, younger females. In one case brought before the courts in the United States, there were 230 victims and 100 computers impacted by a single hacker.

A release from the FBI explains that 'In several instances, the hacker posed online as a young woman's friend or sister and sent messages with attachments asking if the victim wanted to see a scary video. Because the messages appeared to be from a trusted source, the victims usually didn't think twice about opening the attachment. When they did, the virus secretly installed itself, and the hacker had total control over their computers—including all files and folders, webcams and microphones.'extortion speech.png

Police agencies in Canada and the United States have charged and successfully convicted hackers for extortion in cases similar to the one described above.

The Greater Sudbury Police Service's Cyber Crime Unit has received similar complaints and is actively involved in a number of investigations.

The following prevention tips will assist in reducing the possibility of computer users being victimized:

  • Do not take for granted that your computer's anti-virus software is a guarantee against intrusions.
  • Turn off your computer when you are not using it. (The majority of computers involved in the "sextortion" case previously mentioned were laptops; many of the victims chatted on social networks so much that they never turned off their machines.)
  • Cover your webcam when not in use.
  • Do not open attachments without independently verifying that they were sent from someone you know.
  • It's okay to be suspicious! Most people are too trusting when it comes to their computers.
  • If your computer has been compromised and you are receiving extortion threats, don't be afraid to talk to your parents and to report it to police.

The Greater Sudbury Police Service Cyber Crime Unit is part of the Ontario Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet, which has been made possible by a grant from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Ministry of the Attorney General.