Five years after a huge data breach at extramarital affair website Ashley Madison gave criminals access to the credentials of roughly 32 million users, some victims are being hit once again, this time with a highly personalized extortion attempt.
The extortion message includes detailed personal and financial information on the victim and demands a Bitcoin payment (the equivalent of $1,000 on up) to ensure that incriminating details won’t be shared with friends, family, and employers. The message includes two factors that are becoming more popular in criminal attacks: Details of the ransom payment are in an encrypted .PDF file attached to the email, and the .PDF includes a QR code at the top as a way to access payment information.
Both of these newer details are attempts to evade email filters that increasingly target criminal attack content. According to researchers at Vade Secure, which published a blog post on the new attack, the form of the attack is similar to other messages in a wave of “sextortion” attacks that have been ongoing since July 2018.
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