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Naked Zoom Users Targeted By New Cybercrime Campaign

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Tech World

Nov. 2, 2020, 3:03 p.m.

An ongoing cybercrime campaign targets Zoom users who may have got naked or intimate on camera.

Within days of reports that a high-profile reporter and TV analyst had been caught exposing himself during a Zoom chat, cybercriminals started to exploit that news. The reporter told Motherboard that he thought he was off-camera, having muted the Zoom video, and nobody on the call could see him. The cybercriminals behind the latest sextortion campaign, who have already targeted at least 250,000 individuals since October 20, leverage fears that someone might have been inadvertently filmed naked or while being intimate.

First spotted by researchers at the Bitdefender Antispam Lab, the extortion attempt uses all the usual emotional and psychological, not to mention technological cues to convince the target they have been caught out.

The sextortion campaign, while targeting Zoom users, is executed by email. The majority of the emails sent in this particular campaign have been to recipients across the U.S. according to Bitdefender. The first psychological cue is right there in the email subject of 'Regarding Zoom Conference Call,' which might just be enough to catch out plenty of people in these pandemic-altered times in which we live. The first line looks to reinforce the legitimacy of the content to come by stating that "you have used Zoom recently," which would resonate with most of us.

The scam then goes on to use the emotional and technological angles to good effect. I have very unfortunate news for you; I used a zero-day security vulnerability in the Zoom app; I got full access to your camera.

Even the most hardened of users might be forgiven for having to read this twice before deciding it's a con. Especially if they might have been naked in front of a webcam even if they weren't on a Zoom chat or any chat for that matter. If they've been intimate online with a partner, not an uncommon occurrence during pandemic lockdown periods, the fears of being exposed can quickly gather pace and overtake rational thought.

Following more attempts to get into the head of the potential victim, including trying to get them to feel sorry for the attacker who says they are only doing this as they got into debt after contracting COVID, the criminal conclusion is revealed. "Pay me $2,000 (£1,500) in bitcoin," and the supposed video won't be made public.

There are so many things wrong with this that it's hard to know where to start. But how about with while it's certainly possible a hacker could access your webcam, computer or smartphone, by way of a vulnerability or malware, it's also highly unlikely that they have. If that were the case, then to ensure the best chance of getting paid, a short clip of the footage would be attached to the email as proof. The scammer even instructs the recipient not to reply to the email, another big hint that there's no actual video involved. This is a typical sextortion scam that relies upon fear, upon the way people react to that fear, and allows usual thought processes to be diluted. It gives a three-day limit, piling on the pressure to pay up quickly before the alleged video is published online.

Of course, even if the scammer did have footage, then paying the ransom is a bad idea, and there's no guarantee they will delete it as promised. I wouldn't trust a criminal to keep their word, would you?

If you've received an email that sounds similar or is worried that you may have been sexually active, or even just naked, within range of a laptop or smartphone camera, I'd say you can rest easy. The chances of any such communication being genuine are ridiculously remote.

In the meantime, to help assuage any fear here's some good baseline advice:

If you do get naked, or get busy, near your computer or smartphone, always make sure the camera is facing the other way, the laptop lid is closed, or you have shuttered the webcam lens. Many standalone cams have shutters built in these days, and you can buy stick-on sliders for your laptop.

Source: Forbes

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Verny Joy Author

Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.

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