A new research conducted by a body in the United Kingdom has discovered an elaborate and campaign on the internet that consistently allowed blackmailers to make away with more than $330,000 for almost two years.
Like all successful heists, a new report by UK-based Digital Shadows reveals a few interesting facts concerning the exploitation of the most popular cryptocurrency in the world, as Bitcoin is yet again successfully roped into stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting victims.
While Bitcoin had not been the most popular choice for cybercriminal activities because of its less-private attributes compared to some intentional private coins such as Zcash and Monero, the report Bitcoin is surely a more popular choice if a mass scale of organized scam is being carried out at the same time.
According to reports from Digital Shadows, which explained their findings after tracking almost 800,000 emails for the sole purpose of analysis, the criminals who organized a carefully planned campaign launched it successfully through private emails that attempted to blackmail their victims. It is a wonder how mass emails of such matter and magnitude escaped the new robust technology of the spam filter, but one does not have to worry for too long, it is definitely one of the easiest tasks to carry out as a pirate hoping to rob on the internet.
How it Worked
The campaign has been going on for more than a year now, and is most probably still ongoing. After kick-starting its unworthy crusade in 2017, it came into public knowledge for the first time in July last year, after a Computer Science Professor from Cornell University exposed some of the emails and threats on Twitter.
How does it work? The criminals send emails on a large scale to their victims from specially created addresses and inform them they have videos of them watching adult online content or doing something inappropriate while watching. The blackmailers would skillfully provide a known password which is meant to serve as a ‘proof of compromise,’ and which often threw the victims who are afraid of having clips of their pleasured faces exposed online. Not every recipient of the email seemed to care of course, but some did enough to pay almost $1000 to anonymous bitcoin wallet addresses.
Digital Shadows estimates the campaign made an average of $540 each victim, and confirms that about 92 bitcoin wallet addresses were used. The report also suggested that cybercriminals are exploiting social media networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter to target high profile victims, and are also actively employing more skilled threat actors on the Dark web for a fee as high as $768,000 a year.