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Phew! You can relax now.

We’ve started to see a report in spikes in porn blackmail emails come through from various people over the last few days. These emails have been coming through on corporate email addresses generally and with corporate email addresses often being added onto personal mobile phones that often younger members of the family use, this has had a few people concerned. But it’s ok, don’t worry. This is a scam.

When I investigated one of the emails it was clear that the scanners were playing on people’s sense of fear with the demand often being along the lines of;

 

“Tiсket Details: ECW-209-57819
Email: [REDACTED]
Camera ready,Notification: 21.02.2018 06:08:59
Status: Waiting for Reply 20xuVaAy8A0f64wMnKmJkL1FrF5Ky39Fu1_Priority: Normal
****************************************************************************

hi.

If you were more careful while playing with yourself, I wouldn’t worry you. I don’t think that playing with yourself is really awful, but when all colleagues, relatives and friends get video record of it- it is undoubtedly [bad for u.

I placed virus on a web-site for adults (with porn) which was visited by you. When the object press on a play button, device starts recording the screen and all cameras on your device begins working.

Moreover, my virus makes a dedicated desktop supplied with key logger function from ur device , so I was able to get all contacts from ya e-mail, messengers and other social networks. I’ve chosen this e-mail because It’s your corporate address, so you must read it.

I think that 330 usd is pretty enough for this little misstep. I made a split screen video(records from screen (interesting category ) and camera ooooooh… its awful AF)

So its your choice, if u want me to erase this сompromising evidence use my bitсoin wаllеt аddrеss:  1Lt4tLxQmZruKic23FYdAycB9a3GgTaacN
You have one day after opening my message, I put the special tracking pixel in it, so when you will open it I will know.If ya want me to show u the proofs, reply on this letter and I will send my creation to five contacts that I’ve got from ur device.

P.S. You can try to complain to cops, but I don’t think that they can solve ur problem, the inquisition will last for several months- I’m from Estonia – so I dgf LOL”

 

Sounds legit, right? Well, aside from the obvious spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and unsociable hour to be sending such a threatening email, sure.

Thankfully with a bit of investigation we can see that the IP address where this email is coming from is, 188.40.100.212, which is based in Germany with a German web hosting company, not Estonia. And while it is possible to send emails from different locations with relative ease, this one just doesn’t seem to stack up. As when you view the IP address in your web browser, you notice the default cPanel page which shows you that the website does not exist. Now for those of you who know cPanel well, you’ll also know that you can visit www.example.com/cpanel to get to the login page, and likewise, you can do the exact same from an IP address, so 188.40.100.212/cpanel also takes you to the login page.

Also from knowing cPanel very well, I also know how to secure cPanel, and I also know that many people who use cPanel do not secure it correctly and with minimal testing, it is clear that there is no brute force protection technology in place on this “hackers” web server – ironic. So with handy little scripts designed specifically to brute force your way into a cPanel account, should you decide to ‘research’, this is a relatively straight forward thing to do on insecure web servers.

You’ll also notice the Bitcoin wallet listed where you can deposit the “ransom”, yet when you check the transactions against that Bitcoin wallet, you’ll also notice that this wallet has never had any Bitcoins transferred in or out of the account. Another sign that this is clearly a fraudulent email – and that the people behind this scam aren’t that successful.

All in all, this looks to be what’s known as a ‘script kiddie’ in the industry, i.e. someone who clearly thinks they know more than they really do. Now as a non-teckie, this email still can be rather intimidating. Thankfully with a bit of know-how, you can start to spot these ever increasing range of tactics used by the scammers.

Something to bear in mind for all the script kiddies out there… It’s one phone call to the authorities and they’ll be speaking to your web hosting company to get your contact details. In this particular instance I investigated, this appeared to be from a hacked website, so as always – keep your website and web server secure before a hacker finds a vulnerability. It is so easy to find and exploit vulnerabilities when you know what you are looking for…

On a final note, web browsers are designed with security in mind. Web browsers simply cannot access the hardware of your device without your express permission, regardless of the content you are browsing. As a simple example, uploading an image to a website, you’ll notice that this brings up a popup for your standard operating system controlled dialogue box. What this means in layman’s terms is that control has been handed over to the underlying operating system to determine how to proceed with the request and the web browser is waiting for a response to know what to do next. The web browser simple cannot turn on your camera remotely without you agreeing to it.

As a sub-note though, if a hacker manages to find a way to install a program on your device, then they will likely have full access to everything. So keep that in mind too…

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Michael Cropper

Founder & Managing Director at Contrado Digital Ltd
Michael founded Contrado Digital in 2013. He has experience working with national and multi-national brands in a wide range of industries, helping them achieve awesome results. Michael regularly speaks at local universities and industry events while keeping up with the latest trends in the digital industry.