Email Extortion Scam: Have You Heard About Pegasus?

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At 43,101 reported cases, the FBI 2019 Internet Crime Report places extortion in the top three most common internet scams. Better Business Bureau of North Alabama would like to warn the public about a recent email extortion scam, “Have You Heard About Pegasus?”

In this scenario, the scammer is attempting to trick individuals into thinking their computer or phone is infected with malware and then threatens to make their personal data public. However, this is a scammer’s tactic of blackmailing victims into sending them payment in Bitcoin.

Better Business Bureau joins with the National Cyber Security Alliance in suggesting the following cyber hygiene defenses:

  • Call or Text Out of the Blue. If someone calls or texts you claiming that your computer has been infected with the Pegasus virus, don’t believe it, even if they claim to have compromising data on you. Just hang up or delete the text.
  • Don’t click on links from unfamiliar sources. Even if you think you know the sender, be cautious about clicking on email links. When in doubt, delete it. Be especially wary of messages requiring you to act quickly, asking for personal information, or threatening you in any way.
  • Keep clean machines and stay up-to-date with software: Prevent infections by updating critical software as soon as patches or new operating system versions are available. This includes mobile and other internet-connected devices.
  • Use strong authentication, requiring more than a username and password to access accounts, especially critical networks, to prevent access through stolen or hacked credentials. 
  • Conduct regular backups of systems: Systems can be restored in cases of ransomware and having current backup of all data speeds the recovery process.
  • Make better passwords: In cases where passwords are still used, require long, strong and unique passwords to better harden accounts against intrusions.
  • Enable popup blockers. Popups are regularly used by scammers to spread malware. Prevent them from appearing in the first place by adjusting your browser settings.

To learn more about protecting your information online, read the BBB’s tips on data privacy and cyber security.

If you’ve been the victim of scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help educate and protect your fellow consumers.

Source: BBB.org, Malwaretips.com

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