Webcam scams

The Australian government’s Stay Smart Online advisory service is warning people about the possibility of webcam hacks:

In another type of webcam-based scam, malware installed on your computer can be used to operate your built-in webcam, recording images of you without your knowledge. This malware is known as a Remote Access Trojan or RAT and can remotely activate your webcam, at the same time, disabling your camera indicator light.  These images can also be used to blackmail you.

What should I do?
  • As always, make sure your software and systems are up-to-date, and that you are using up-to-date security software.
  • Be aware that anything you do on the internet, including video and voice calls, can be recorded.
  • Never use your webcam to video call someone you do not know.
  • Be cautious about people you meet online. People you meet online may not be who they seem to be.
  • Revealing personal details online is extremely risky.
  • Be aware that this type of scam is blackmail and it is illegal. The scammers are breaking the law.

If you have been threatened, you should:

  • Block their emails and their accounts from all networks. Cease all contact with the scammer. Scammers often seek soft targets, so they may move on if you do not respond. Some victims have reported no further consequences once they blocked the scammer and ignored their demands.
  • Be suspicious of any new or unusual friend requests, for example, someone you thought you were already friends with on Facebook.
  • Save the scammer’s details, emails, comment threads or any other evidence you have of them and the extortion attempt.   This can be done with screenshots or taking a photo with your phone.
  • If you think images or footage may be posted online (you can set up a Google email alert to look for this content every day), you can contact the host site to ask them to remove the files.
  • Contact your local police and notify them of the activity.
  • Report it to SCAMwatch.
  • The only leverage the scammers have is your embarrassment. You may consider accepting the disclosure.
  • Paying scammers and extortionists is never encouraged. Once you have paid, there is nothing preventing them from targeting you or your compromised computer again

Read the whole article here.

Girls switched on to social pitfalls

The Sunday Age has reported on two 12 year old girls who have social media accounts, but are well aware of the pitfalls they can face:

”Basically, I don’t post anything that I don’t want my parents to see,” said Georgia, who admitted her parents check her Skype, Instagram and Kick about once a month.

Eve, who uses Skype and iMessage, says her parents trust her not to accept requests from strangers. And the information she posts online is unlikely to reveal too much about her private life. ”It’s really important not to give too much information about yourself away.”

This is great advice for all parents and their children. Read the whole article here.

Skype reveals your location

A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald alerted Skype users to the hole in security where your IP address and location can be revealed to others:

Skype constantly exposes users’ internet addresses to the entire world, allowing criminals to better target cyber attacks and rivals to locate people.

The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets warned last year about research that showed it was possible to coax Skype into revealing the IP addresses of individual Skype users. Most users however, still have no clue about this basic privacy weakness.

“We are investigating reports of tools that capture a Skype user’s last known IP address,” a spokesperson for Skype said in an emailed statement. “This is an ongoing, industry-wide issue faced by all peer-to-peer software companies.”

Read the whole article here.