Botnet spreads 30,000 sextortion emails in an hour

Recipients ordered to pay $800 in Bitcoin under threat of compromising photos leaking online

Some 450,000 hijacked computers have been used to send phishing scams in a large scale "sextortion" campaign, with victims receiving emails threatening to release compromising photos of recipients unless they cough up $800 in Bitcoin.

The campaign using botnets to target more than 27 million victims at a rate of 30,000 per hour with their own personal information, supposedly taken from previous data breaches.

There is a suggestion that only a small number have opened the emails, but researchers believe botnets still offered a great "return on investment" for hackers.

"A botnet can be used for many, many things," said Charles Henderson, from IBM's X-Force Red security team, according to the BBC. "This was just one task assigned to it."

A botnet is a network of computers that have been compromised by hackers, usually by malware spread via infected webpages of malicious email attachments. They can quickly send out and spread attacks across a wide number of machines and mask hackers tracks.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

So far, the closest anyone has come to finding the culprits is through security firm Check Point, which monitored one of the Bitcoin wallets being used to collect funds from the scam.

In other sexploitation news, more than 300 people have been arrested after the world's "largest dark web child porn marketplace" was shut down by UK investigators.

The site had more than 200,000 videos, all of which had been downloaded more than a million times, but was taken down last year after a UK investigation into a child sex offender led to its existence.

Although it had been shut down a year ago, officials revealed on Wednesday that 337 suspects had been arrested in 38 countries with US authorities unsealing nine indictments against the site's owner, Jong Woo Son, a 23-year-old man from South Korea, according to TechCrunch.

The UK's National Crime Agency has revealed the arrests were made in the UK, Ireland, America, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic and Canada - as well as many more.

Featured Resources

The IT Pro guide to Windows 10 migration

Everything you need to know for a successful transition

Download now

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Software-defined storage for dummies

Control storage costs, eliminate storage bottlenecks and solve storage management challenges

Download now

6 best practices for escaping ransomware

A complete guide to tackling ransomware attacks

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/cloud/microsoft-azure/354230/microsoft-not-amazon-is-going-to-win-the-cloud-wars
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft, not Amazon, is going to win the cloud wars

30 Nov 2019
Visit/business/business-strategy/354252/huawei-takes-the-us-trade-sanctions-into-its-own-hands
Business strategy

Huawei takes the US trade sanctions into its own hands

3 Dec 2019
Visit/hardware/354237/five-signs-that-its-time-to-retire-it-kit
Sponsored

Five signs that it’s time to retire IT kit

29 Nov 2019
Visit/mobile/mobile-phones/354273/pablo-escobars-brother-launches-budget-foldable-phone
Mobile Phones

Pablo Escobar's brother launches budget foldable phone

4 Dec 2019