FBI: Extortion cases are on the rise

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently put out a warning to the public: Hackers are taking advantage of data breaches in an attempt to frighten users into paying them hush money.

The warning comes courtesy of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and is likely tied to Ashley Madison and other high-profile breaches.

Attackers claim to have access to users’ names, phone numbers and credit card history. In addition, they warn that they have access to users’ social media accounts and will make embarrassing information public or send it to their professional and personal contacts unless a ransom demand is paid in Bitcoin.

It’s not immediately clear how many of these attackers actually possess all of these digital assets. It’s possible there’s a mix of honest warnings and lies told in order to scare users into paying up.

Tech support scams

But that’s not the only scam the FBI has its eyes on. It’s also warning of a resurgence in a popular tech support scam.

In this attack, users are contacted by someone claiming to represent a help desk or tech support company. This is usually done through a phone call, email, instant message or a lock screen warning that provides users with a number to call.

From there a social engineer tries to convince the user to allow them access to their devices. If successful, he or she will take over the user’s account, making them pay a ransom if they want to regain access.

While neither of these attacks are targeting businesses in particular it seems, now may be a good time to advise users of the danger of falling for these traps. Make sure they know not to ever give permission for someone to access their accounts on the phone, and advise them on best practices for avoiding phishing attacks.

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