Miss Teen USA winner, Cassidy Wolf, was the target of a sick "sextortion" scheme.
According to the LA Times, a hacker gained control of Wolf's webcam on the computer in her bedroom. The hacker then tried to extort money from Wolf by sending her an email threatening to release nude photos stolen from the camera.
However, Wolf decided to risk having the nude photos releasedÂ—instead of paying the hacker, she went to the authorities. Her move paid off when FBI agents identified her cyberstalker. Investigators discovered that more than a dozen other women were the victims of similar sextortion plots.
Cyberstalkers don't just target celebrities like the Miss Teen USA winnerÂ—there are numerous horror stories about hackers gaining access to webcams, including a recent creepy story about a hacker who gained access to the webcam that was being used to monitor a baby's room. He then started yelling obscenities at the child. Wolf said that the light on her webcam camera never came on, so she had no idea that she was being watched. So these cyberstalkers are extremely sneaky, and it sounds like some of them just target random strangers simply because they can.
Wolf's computer was likely compromised by something called a RAT. A RAT is a type of malware that can be unknowingly installed on a computer through email attachments and downloads. It allows a hacker to remotely control a victim's computer and gives them access to passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive info, so webcam spying isn't the only worry when it comes to the RAT virus.
Text expert Andy Walker told CTV News that people can protect themselves from hackers by making sure to turn the security features on when installing new products, and it's very important to have good anti-virus and firewall programs that are up-to-date. Computer users can also avoid RAT malware by being very cautious about what they download and the email attachments they open. Luckily, one way to avoid being spied on via webcam even if your computer gets compromised is very simple: Just place a sticky note, sticker, or piece of tape over your webcam.
Cassidy Wolf plans to use her scary experience to educate others about cybercrimes, and maybe her experience will encourage other victims to contact the authorities if they get targeted by hackers.
Photo Source: Glenn Francis/Wikimedia