Unfortunately, you can be blackmailed even if you haven’t shared your nudes with anyone – your phone or cloud storage can be simply hacked. If you have shared the content – the probability is even higher since your chatmate can also be hacked. More often than not, nude photos or videos are leaked to revenge porn websites. The situation is tough but not hopeless since there are ways to deal with online sextortion. You can always use professional investigative services like digitalinvestigation.com. But the best option is to avoid leaking your explicit content. Let’s find out more about how to protect yourself.
What is sexual extortion?
Sextortion is a form of blackmail where perpetrators use explicit images and videos stolen from their victims to scam them for money or additional NSFW material. If victims do not comply with their demands, all photos and videos possessed by perpetrators are published on the Internet. Over the last couple of years, attacks have become more complex, just like threats. Sextortion can happen to a person of any age, but children are often the easiest victims.
The classical way of sextortion is very straightforward: scammers create fake social media accounts and engage strangers in conversations. At this stage, perpetrators will do anything to make you believe they are your soulmates or whatever you seek from online chatting. Psychological manipulation is the key tool for any sextortion doer. The final stage is the transition to video chats (in many cases Skype), where the attackers convince their victims to engage in cybersex – which is then recorded and used against victims.
Perpetrators can also make you download some software for fake purposes. Obviously, it’s a malware designed to steal personal data from an infected device. There are no safe platforms – Windows, Linux, macOS, and even iOS and Android don’t provide 100% safety. If you really need to fix some problem – it’s better to google it.
How do they do it? For example, to fix some ‘problems with sound’ during Skype sessions. The app or file then sends personal data to the scammer – names, phone numbers, and email addresses of family and friends to directly threaten everyone the victim knows.
What should teenagers and their parents do?
If you are a teenager blackmailed by a stranger, the best you can do is tell an adult you trust. They should take the situation seriously and help you. You can also turn to professional psychologists.
If you’re the parent, find an opportunity to talk to your child about what sexting (the exchange of intimate content or messages) can lead to. When a teenager does this, unfortunately, they can be threatened with blackmail, bullying, and even involvement in child pornography. Then, turn to the police or special cyber investigators. The second option can be even more preferable. Not all police officers can properly deal with cyber crimes. In this case, hackers will have a big advantage unless you hire cybercrime professionals.
What if you don’t have nude content at all?
Perhaps you are being contacted by scammers. If you are certain they couldn’t get any of your intimate photos or videos, then it’s more likely a deepfake (a tech that superimposes a photo of your face on a video or other image).
The most common case is ransomware, which is used to send out threatening emails. Such messages may be about a malicious virus they allegedly installed on your computer to spy on you. They can pretend they have access to your data, photos, and correspondence – and blackmail you. If you received such a letter and have no reason to believe it’s true, just ignore it.
Even if you did send your nudes to other people – it’s totally okay. However, like other sexual acts, nudes are subject to mutual consent. Sending your nudes without obtaining the recipient’s consent in advance might be regarded as harassment.
What if you refuse to pay, and they will send your nude content to anyone you know?
Psychologists advise keeping calm if you receive threats of publishing your nude photos. Perhaps you should write an announcement that advances the leak and tell that you are being blackmailed. There is no need to make excuses or apologize if you didn’t do anything illegal.
Even if they publish your nudes, try to react as calmly as possible. To make it easier, avoid social networks for a few days. Even the most viral stories usually die down within a week.
Maybe it’s better to buy back your intimate photos?
Being led by scammers might have dire long-term consequences. Even if you pay the criminal, they’re unlikely to leave you alone – blackmail usually intensifies. The next time, they may demand even more money or threaten that your personal photos will be published on dating sites.
You feel bad and ashamed. Who can help?
Try to believe that you didn’t do anything wrong (because you didn’t!). Everyone expresses their sexuality differently, and that’s okay. If you’re worried about your appearance, remember that many people are increasingly questioning the old notions of what’s “beautiful” and what’s not. If you feel that you can’t cope with this situation on your own, seek psychological support. Online sextortion is not something new, so professional psychologists know the matter and how to help victims very well.
How not to be hacked again?
You should follow a few simple rules to protect your personal data on a phone or cloud storage.
- First, set different and complex passwords. You don’t have to remember them all. You can use a password manager.
- Second, enable two-factor authentication on all devices, social media, and email.
- Finally, use end-to-end encrypted messengers like Signal or Telegram. They allow deleting messages not only to you but to your chatmate.
Think twice before sending a nude photo or video. Ask yourself: can you be identified from photos? How much do you trust your chatmate? Will you be able to delete these photos later?