Unfortunately, this isn’t a happy joy joy blog post like I normally post or a review or tutorial. It’s a post about what to do and how to protect yourself from hackers and threatening emails.
On Wednesday, I received an email from Diarmid Cheadle where he proceeded to threaten and blackmail me with some sort of video and if I didn’t comply within 24 hours, he would release this “video” of me to all my contacts and that he had been watching me via my webcam. He requested that I pay him $2,000 in bitcoin and send it to the link he provided. You can imagine my hysterics when I received his email, thinking someone, from god knows where, is watching me.
After putting tape over my webcam, I immediately called Apple to verify if he had access to my computer and what steps I should take next. The woman I was speaking to on the phone (Apple) helped me put my computer in safe mode (which determines if there is a third-party app remotely accessing your computer) and if it doesn’t start up then that means there is someone accessing your computer. Luckily, mine booted up and we checked through my whole application list to see if there were any apps that had been installed without my consent and possibly accessing my information.
Delete anything you find suspicious!! Luckily, I didn’t have to delete a thing. Which meant that the “hacker” didn’t hack anything at all. Upon confirming this information with Apple, she encouraged me to contact the Police and file a report, which is what I did next. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to help at all, which I understand. They don’t patrol the internet. However, the more that they know this is happening to people the more they will start to realize that this is getting serious and start getting involved.
When you get a threatening email, look for red flags.
This is what stood out to me in the email:
1 – He didn’t address me by my name only half of my email
2 – He tried to scare me by saying he knows my password but only provided 3/4 of it and it was a REALLY old password.
3 – He provided a website address that he said I went to but don’t recall ever going to.
4 – He mentioned IF I was in a relationship, how this would eventually affect it. (I’m not in a relationship anymore)
5 – He said he’s dealt with the cops and “have dealt with my actions”?
6 – Quote on quote he said “I am not trying to charge a fee a whole lot, I would like to be rewarded” That’s incredibly off-putting.
7 – He said he has a “unique pixel in this message” and that at that exact moment he knew I was reading the email. Which is not possible. You can’t read something before you even got it.
8 – He mentions at the end that he would send this “video” of me to my friends, family and co-workers. What friends and what co-workers? What contacts is he referring to? The information he is providing is outdated, incorrect and generic.
9 – It’s been over 24 hours and I have received no further contact from him (probably because I closed my email account) and no video of me being released.
The only weird stuff I’ve taken a video of on my desktop is me doing my first product review.
What to do if you get a threatening email:
Step 1 – Look for red flags to determine if they TRULY have your information. If the information is outdated, generic or incorrect. It’s a scam so don’t respond.
Step 2 – Reset all your passwords and close down accounts you don’t need anymore.
Step 3 – Contact your computer/phone manufacturer to determine if someone has remote access or has installed a third-party app.
Step 4 – Let your local Police department know what’s going on.
Here’s what you can do to PREVENT someone gaining access to your computer:
1 – Don’t give your information to weird or off-putting sites. This is where these people get their information. Websites will take your old information including passwords and sell them to people who use them as ransom.
2 – Get an antivirus software and run them every day. I am using Malware on my Mac which is what Apple recommends everyone to have. If you are using Windows, contact them to find the best solution for your computer. I’ve used Kaspersky in the past and they were amazing. Not sure how they are now.
3 – Don’t open strange emails or links. Some contain viruses that will implant themselves directly in your system and secretly steal your information including personal and banking.
4 – Reset your passwords from time to time and make them complicated so it’s difficult for the hacker to uncode and use.
5 – For social media channels, ensure two-step authentication is on for EVERYTHING.
I wanted to share my recent experience in hopes of preventing this for others in the future. If you have any further advice, stories or comments, please leave them below!