In the modern digital world, cybercrimes come in many shapes and forms. One of the most common cyber crimes that take place every day is online blackmail.
Today we’ll be discussing everything about how can be taken advantage of online, and how to prevent it from happening further down the line.
What is Online Blackmail?
Online blackmail is when someone threatens to reveal private information about you, and will only stop when you either provide them monetary compensation or other benefits.
This is similar to blackmail, which is already a criminal offense punishable by law. The only difference here is that the entire act of blackmailing takes place in a virtual space, i.e.: different social media platforms.
Common Online Blackmail Methods
There are various ways an individual can be blackmailed online, which involves receiving threats over different aspects. The most common form of threats include:
- The threat of violent acts that might be performed on an individual or their loved one (friends, family, love interest, etc.)
- Damage to Personal Property/ Any kind of physical/virtual assets
- Releasing personal information that can ruin a person’s reputation
- Releasing private financial information that anyone can exploit for personal gains
How Is Online Blackmail Different From Traditional Extortion?
Traditional extortion takes place in person, and the threat is always directed at an individual. It’s not a public event, it’s more of a privatized threat.
On the other hand, online blackmail can take a lot of different forms, but they are not private in any way. Information on the internet can spread very quickly, and it can leak from anywhere. So when an event of online blackmail takes place, it becomes a public event within a short amount of time, because of how fast the leaked information can spread.
Online blackmailers are professional scammers who know their way around any personal security infrastructure to exploit them.
There can also be instances where a perpetrator makes a fake claim of having personal information when in reality, they are just trying to scare you into fulfilling their demands.
Steps To Take In Case of An Online Blackmail
In the event of online blackmail, it can be very tough to keep yourself calm and take calculated decisions. But that is exactly what the perpetrators count on.
Here are the actions you should take immediately after finding out you are being blackmailed online:
Step #1: Stop Engaging With The Blackmailer
Cease all forms of communication with the blackmailer. The more you engage with them, it will only invoke the aggressor even more.
As a result, they will start sending more aggressive threats, since they will take you as an easy target. It can have a negative impact on you.
When you stop engaging entirely, you reduce the risks of any further exploitation.
Step #2: Start Saving All Communication As Evidence
Every bit of evidence counts in the case of online blackmail, and all the conversations you have had with the blackmailer can work as tangible evidence against the perpetrator.
Capture screenshots of every possible instance of the conversations, and record any potential information the blackmailer may have given away like different user names, emails, phone numbers, etc.
Step #3: Report The Incident To The Proper Authorities
Once you have collected enough evidence, you should contact law enforcement with all the evidence right away.
In general, every law enforcement agency will provide you with a form to fill out your personal details and submit all the necessary information that can be considered evidence.
Once you let them know about the entire incident, they will inform you about your rights and the recommended process to go about it.
Step #4: Start Taking Steps To Prevent Further Blackmail
Once you’ve informed all the authorities and are on the path to recovering your stolen information with the necessary steps, you should take adequate measures to prevent further instances of online blackmail.
How to Protect Yourself From Online Blackmail Incidents
Prevention is always better than cure, and that’s what you should count on in the case to prevent further online blackmail incidents. We’ll discuss a few points of internet privacy that you can apply to your daily lives for reducing further data leak risks.
Use Stronger Passwords
Strengthening your password is the first step towards better security for your online presence. A password is the first line of defense for all your personal data over different online accounts.
Ensure to change your password regularly, and use different passwords for different online platforms. Strong and unique passwords are a great way to ensure your data has the most possible protection against any online threats.
To make sure your passwords are strong, use at least 12 characters that has a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special symbols (#*&^%). That way, it’s much tougher for a perpetrator to figure out the pass you’re using and get into your accounts.