Updated: Nov 1, 2021
The online world is full of possibility, but security issues exist too. In particular, there is a growing danger of sextortion on the internet. Here is everything you need to know about the topic, along with what you can do if you get caught up in it.
What is Sextortion?
According to the FBI, sextortion is, “a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.”
Sextortion is not just about someone getting their hands on sensitive material for nefarious purposes, however. The intent is usually financially motivated blackmail.
What Can Be Done?
Remain vigilant. If you are a parent, make sure you have security measures in place with regards what content and websites your children can access (especially on mobile devices) and run regular scans and checks for flagged words and content (there is software available which can assist in this approach). Most importantly, educate your children regarding the dangers that lurk online, and dissuade them from sending sensitive material online, or engaging in conversations with people they do not know.
Follow the same advice yourself. Never share sensitive content, especially images of yourself. Even if the person you are sending to is completely trusted, accounts can and do get hacked.
In the online world, sextortion is a real threat, and something everyone should be wary of. At the very least, think about how you conduct yourself online and the type of images and content that you share. If you share something on one medium of communication, the chances are that those images could be accessed and sent or posted elsewhere. Let that always determine the type of imagery you share, and ask the question: ‘Is this something that I wouldn’t mind everyone seeing?”
Of course, this is a worst-case scenario. Those who have sent intimate pictures of themselves to partners never believe that those images could be shared with the greater online community, but that, unfortunately, is what happens sometimes.
Are There Any Specific Scams To Be Aware Of?
One particular scam running currently is an email that you will receive purportedly stating that they have access to sensitive materials belonging to you, and this will be revealed in the public domain unless you comply with the request (which is usually for money). To validate the threat, a sensitive password that you once used is usually shared.
“At this stage we in the security community do not believe that these blackmailers have access to your materials, but have instead gained your password through past breaches. Change all your passwords immediately, and report the email to the relevant authorities, but absolutely do not comply with the demand,” says Richard O’Connor, a security blogger at Coursework Writing Service and Online Paper Help.
What Should You Do If You Are a Victim?
It is easy to say that you should tell someone, but that may be the very last thing you want to do. If there really are compromising pictures of you, actually telling someone about them can be as bad as the images themselves getting leaked. In some ways it is a ‘no win’ situation.
But that is not the case. Telling someone you trust, and ultimately reporting it to the right authorities is absolutely the right thing to do, and is a ‘win’ situation for you.
“Do not be ashamed, that is the first thing to know. We are all human and all of us engage in private activities, so you are not doing anything that other people may do too. Of course, as a young person this is the last conversation you want to have with your parents, but they will understand more than you realize! And very often it’s not even your fault. Even if it is (you deliberately took and shared some photos, for example), you simply made a mistake that has been made countless times before you. And we all mistakes, just ask your parents,” counsels Monica Hart, an educator at Best Research Paper Writing and OxEssays.
You need the support of someone you trust through this, so report it. Although the perpetrators may not get caught, by telling people you have removed the very aspect of their approach that they hoped to use to blackmail you. You have taken their power away, so they will now go away. Telling people and reporting it removes the threat. Absolutely do not suffer in silence, as that is how they win. Do not give them anything that they want, immediately tell someone, and let an adult deal with the situation. You can and will get past this.
Aimee Laurence can be found offering her expert insights as an educator at UKWritings and BoomEssays, where she mostly writes about college life. Aimee also tutors at Online Essay Writer academic service.