Sextortion and the Consequences of Getting Caught With Your Pants Down

Chris Hartwig

Sextortion is twpd_man_looking_through_webcam.pnghe act of extorting money from someone using the threat of sharing sexually explicit photos or videos that were obtained by illicit means. The photos and videos used in the extortion are usually sexually explicit items the victim created and distributed to another person through sexting. Although sexting is the most common way these images and videos are shared; it’s not the only way a cybercriminal can catch you with your pants down.

Recently WatchPoint was approached by a prominent businessman who was faced with a terrible proposition. The gentleman whom we will call Jeff is married but evidently not that faithful. Jeff had been spending a lot of time on his webcam recently with a woman he met who we will call Jessica. Jeff and Jessica shared some very private and intimate moments together through their webcams. What Jeff didn’t know was that Jessica was secretly recording their webcam sexcapades and had also accessed his PC using a very simple vulnerability.

Webcams Exploited!

Jeff’s “fun” quickly turned to utter terror the day Jessica used the recorded webcam videos to threaten and extort money from him. You see; after Jessica had collected enough photos and videos to make a camel blush, she let Jeff know her true intentions. In addition to collecting the damaging photos and videos, Jessica had also exploited a vulnerability in his Outlook and had access to all of Jeff’s contacts. Jessica threatened to email the explicit webcam videos to everyone in Jeff’s contact list including his wife if he didn’t wire her $10,000. Jeff wired the money. Jessica asked for another $8,000 the next day.

Shodan and the IoT is a search engine that allows you to find all kinds of devices that are connected to the Internet - even your router and webcam! users can find and collect data on systems like traffic lights, security cameras, industrial control systems for water parks, gas stations, the power grid, water treatment plants, nuclear power plants and particle-accelerating cyclotrons, to name just a few.

These systems typically have very light security and often accept the default username and password supplied by the manufacturer. This username and password were intended for one-time use and after logging into the device should have been changed to something more secure. Since so many devices are sold as plug and play, many people fail to understand that they have a responsibility to further secure the device before plugging it in and allowing the device to access the Internet. Anyone could use to find your Internet-connected webcam and run a similar scam on you.

Revenge Porn

WPD_female_silhouette.pngRevenge porn consists of explicit photos or videos that get posted to revenge porn websites by a disgruntled and often ex-romantic partner. Many cases have been documented where Jack posted Jill’s nude videos on revenge porn websites and demanded sex or more explicit images before they would be taken down. Lawsuits have been filed by victims, and one unnamed Houston woman was awarded $500,000. The sad part about revenge porn is even if you win the battle in court; you may not ever be successful in getting the content removed from the Internet and will face a life where any innocent search of your name leads to your infamous images.

Teens Put on Sex Offender Registry for Sharing Their Own Photos

"Special Agent Nickolas Savage discusses "sextortion" and the dangers kids face online."

Revenge porn is terrible, but something even worse is happening to teenagers all across America. In a handful of cases across the country, teenagers have been prosecuted and put on the sex offender registry for possession of child pornography. Sex offenders deserve to be on this registry; however renegade prosecutors have gone so far as to prosecute underage teenagers for possessing nude images of themselves. Since they were underage, the material is deemed child pornography and if they sent that image to their significant other; they are also guilty of distribution of child pornography.

Protect Yourself…and Your Children

wpd_kid_blocking_webcam.pngThe best solution to sextortion is obvious. Don’t produce pornographic or nude material of yourself or your significant other and it cannot be stolen and used to extort money from you. You won’t find much sympathy if your images get stolen and distributed and you could spend your life regretting it every time someone Googles your name.

  1. Don’t create content that involves your private parts
  2. Disable your webcam if you don’t use it
  3. Encrypt your photos and videos
  4. Educate your children about the dangers of sexting


How to Disable Your Webcam

  1. Press Windows + R on your keyboardto open the Run window
  2. Type “Control Panel” and hit Enter or press OK
  3. In Control Panel - Double Click Device Manager
  4. Expand Imaging Devices
  5. Right-click your webcam and select “Disable.”WPD_disable_webcam.png

Still Worried About Your Files?

If you are still concerned about cybercriminals stealing your content or accessing your webcam after following the tips above…contact us today to see how HackTraps can protect your data and notify you if anyone accesses it that shouldn’t.

Learn More


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