Friday, July 23, 2021

UK police warn of sexual harassment in intimate online dating chats

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There are people out there who are trying to take advantage of the only way to date during the epidemic.

As politicians play whack-a-mole on COVID-19 levels of infection and try to Recover from the economic damage caused by lockdown, homestay orders also have an impact on those outside the dating scene.

I can no longer meet for a drink, coffee, or even now to walk around the park, arranging to meet anyone outside your house or bubble support is not allowed and could lead to fines in the United Kingdom – and this includes dates and overnight stays.

Therefore, the only possible way is to find online communication, through social media or dating apps.

Dating is hard enough in good times but sexual desire does not disappear because it is banned at home.

Because of this, many health care organizations around the world have urged us not to contribute to the spread of COVID-19 by engaging in sensible sexuality outside of our social blankets, bringing a new meaning to the phrase, “You are your most secure sexual partner.”

This does not mean, however, that we stopped searching during the epidemic; instead, dating apps – such as Tinder, Harmony, and the new Quarantine Together – sign users to record numbers.

Apps and chats with Zoom, however, can go so far, and after you’ve made your way through small remote conversations, what’s next?

If you are not careful, it is Harmful To you.

In a recent case written by Thames Valley police in the UK, the sexual harassment scandal started innocent enough: a young man was contacted via Facebook by a woman who wanted to discuss a video.

They spoke twice online and the woman asked him to show off his body. Although no “close” acts took place in the first online episode, police said, the second interview was another story – and the close-ups he provided were then secretly recorded by the scam artist.

He then told his victim that their online session had been recorded and they demanded £ 200 ($ 270) for the pain of being sent to all his family and friends, who are now available to him via Facebook.

The man refused, but in the next two hours, he received more than $ 100. Eventually, he appeared to be inside – but instead blocked him and opened all his accounts before contacting law enforcement.

The Thames Valley is urging us to “do nothing stupid” online, but the case – as it unfolds, a small fish in a large pool of sensitive information and another where the young man escaped from the net – still shows how much caution we need now about sharing close-up images without our consent.

Sexual harassment is not a new concept, and unfortunately, the Internet has provided a lucrative platform for people who are trying to extort money, sexual acts, services, or images from others. Some of the most common forms of abortion are:

  • Phishing emails: Messages claim to have seen your web history or visit a pornographic website, and may also mean that ‘hackers’ have accessed your webcam and recorded it.
  • Phishing spam emails contain known passwords: Same, but with the addition of passwords you have used to access online accounts that may be exposed to data breaches to try and appear legitimate.
  • Revenge porn: Threats to remove photos or videos from the internet, sometimes by former partners or other people you know.
  • Internet of Things: Nest and Ring devices have been compromised to reuse old tactics and reassure victims that hackers have an illegal recording of them.
  • Emotional causes are key: humiliation, fear, anxiety about friends, family, or co-workers finding or viewing pictures, and worrying about the future impact those things may have on your life.

A report by Thorn and the Crimes Against Children Research Center (CCRC) estimates that in 45% of cases where the perpetrator receives serious offenses, they will pose a threat.

After all, they are not the victims of humiliation.

With this in mind, it’s time to rethink what risks we are comfortable doing online, lockdown, or not.

Sexual harassment can be frustrating but there is no guarantee that the scam will remove the videos they received after you pay – and they may just demand more and more from you.

“Anyone who is threatened with this form of cyberbullying is advised to contact the police and should refrain from sending the scam any money,” said Ray Walsh, Digital Privacy Expert at ProPrivacy.

“If the fraudster knows that the victim is willing to pay they will double and ask for more. For this reason, it is important that you contact the police and refuse to pay.”

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Priyanshu Vijayvargiya
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'Virtualattacks Inc' Priyanshu Vijayvargiya is a cybersecurity analyst, Information Security professional, developer, and a white hat hacker.

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