A Valley woman is taking extra steps after she was the target of extortion by someone claiming to be from the dark web.
“It’s very scary, it’s very unnerving,” said Margy Bons.
Bons, says she received an email last Wednesday. The email read:
My nickname in darknet is ritch51.
I hacked this mailbox more than six months ago,
Through it I infected the password after that – it does not matter, my virus intercepted all the caching data on your computer
And automatically saved access for me.”
The email went on to say they had access to her accounts, social networks, browsing history files, photos and videos. They gave her 48 hours to send $812 in bitcoin if she didn’t want her information to get out.
But then it got personal and seemed to insult her intelligence, the email ended saying:
“I hope I taught you a good lesson.
Do not be so nonchalant, please visit only proven resources, and don’t enter your passwords anywhere! Good luck!”
“I try to be extremely, extremely careful but obviously I must have missed something,” said Bons.
No matter how careful you are, experts say the dark web has a way of weaving you into it’s web.
“Well first of all, your information is probably already out there on the dark web,” said Cody Wamsley, President of the Information Systems Security Association, Phoenix Chapter.
But what is the dark web?
Cyber security experts say there are two sides to the web. There is the deep web where the vast majority of content lives, its content that is not found on search engines but accessed through web browsers. Then there is the dark web, it’s content that is not indexed and requires special software and browsers to access it.
The dark web is tough to get into and allows for anonymity. Wamsley says the dark web can be used for good; for example, in the case of sharing information to combat oppressive regimes and terrorism. But it can also be used for bad. Criminals and hackers and terrorists frequent this side of the world wide web to share information.
Brian Kafenbaum, Found and Managing Partner of Phoenix Cybersecurity, says malware, drugs, weapons, and stolen data can be found on Darknet markets; accessed by the dark web.
Experts say through the data breaches over the last decade, your information is already spread throughout the dark web and up for grabs.
“For somebody to say that they’re watching you, and monitoring you, and following you…it’s scary, it’s unnerving,” said Bon.
Bons froze her accounts, changed her passwords, and closed some of her accounts.
Experts say to protect yourself be vigilant. Monitor your credit report and enroll in credit monitoring services, change your passwords often and use Multi-Factor Authentication to add an extra layer of protection.
They also recommend you use a password vault to create and save strong passwords, and put a freeze on your credit profiles with all three credit reporting agencies; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. After freezing, they say to be sure to plan ahead and temporarily unfreeze, before establishing a new cell phone account, car loan, credit card, etc.
Finally, be aware and remember when posting anything on the internet it can be intercepted anytime. Also, understand that creating new accounts create a greater risk of hack exposure.
Experts also say the only way to monitor the dark web is to go into the web itself.
“Law enforcement in the United States has had active operations where they’ve had agents where they are constantly monitoring and scouring the dark web for activity,” said Wamsley.
But for the less tech-savy, the dark web can be a scary thought and that has Bon added more steps to protect herself in the digital world.
“You don’t feel very secure, it’s like who knows what, what do they know about me and how much have they gotten, and how much have they gotten of my friends and family?” said Bons.