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Online sextortion is one of the most vicious and demeaning cybercrimes we have seen. It involves coercive and manipulative tactics to extort money or other benefits from vulnerable individuals, usually by threatening to release or distribute sexually explicit images or videos. This crime leads to psychological, emotional, financial, and reputational damages, and it can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, location, and background. In this blog, we will provide some tips and advice on how to avoid online sextortion and how to protect yourself and your loved ones from this malicious act.
Discovering the motivation behind these cyber criminals is often quite simple, as it nearly always boils down to one thing: money. These criminals understand that individuals will go to great lengths to protect their private content from exposure, resulting in a cycle of psychological and emotional abuse, isolation from friends and family, and putting themselves in disastrous financial situations.
In some instances, the motive behind sextortion can be purely vengeful. This can happen in cases where a relationship ends on a sour note or when an individual feels rejected or slighted in some way.
It also doesn’t help that those who act on sextortion can come from all parts of the world. As long as you have internet access and a device, sextortion can be done. While some sextortionists operate alone, the majority of sextortion cases involve complex and organized illegal operations that view this heinous act as a profitable business. Whichever way the sextortion is operated, it doesn’t help that it’s a crime that can be easily conducted from anywhere.
There are several warning signs that can indicate that you’re being targeted for online sextortion. These include:
To avoid online sextortion, you must first understand the risks involved. Sextortion usually happens through online platforms such as social media, dating apps, or email, where the perpetrator can easily access your personal information and photos. They may also use fake profiles or identities to approach you and gain your trust before demanding money or other favors. To avoid falling into this trap, be cautious and always verify the identity of anyone who contacts you online.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when dealing with online sextortion is to share sensitive information or images with strangers online. Once you share a photo or video of yourself, you lose control over it, and it can be used against you in any way the perpetrator wants. Therefore, you should never share any sensitive information or images online, especially if you do not know the person on the other side. Even if you know the person, make sure only to share information or images you are comfortable with being made public.
Another way to protect yourself from online sextortion is to use strong passwords and security measures. This includes changing your passwords regularly, using two-factor authentication, avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, and keeping your computer and devices updated with the latest security patches and antivirus software. By taking these measures, you can reduce the likelihood of your personal information or photos being hacked or stolen.
If you suspect someone is trying to extort money or other benefits from you online, immediately report it to the authorities. This can include contacting the police or local cybersecurity agencies and reporting the incident to social media platforms or dating apps. By reporting the incident, you can protect yourself and help prevent others from falling victim to the same perpetrator.
Sextortion is an insidious crime that can have long-lasting emotional, psychological, and financial consequences on the victim. Understanding the motives and tactics used by sextortionists to protect ourselves is crucial. Furthermore, in cases of sextortion, it’s paramount to seek help from law enforcement and report sextortion as soon as possible. While we can never be entirely safe online, learning how to avoid online sextortion and other cybercrimes can go a long way in protecting ourselves and preventing these crimes from happening.
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