Cyber Extortion in India: How to Deal with it?
Cyber Insurance

Cyber Extortion in India: How to Deal with it?

The internet is a boon for thriving businesses. However, criminals who are always looking for ways to loot individuals can also use the internet for unethical gains. Companies have private information that they keep secure from the public. Cybercriminals usually make use of such information to extort money from corporations. This type of criminal activity is known as cyber extortion. This article explains what cyber extortion is, its ill effects on businesses, and ways to deal with this critical situation. Read on to know more:

What is Cyber Extortion?

Cyber extortion, also known as cyber blackmailing, is an internet–based crime wherein cybercriminals threaten to expose the sensitive data of a company or an individual. The attackers usually demand money in return for not disclosing sensitive financial information. Hackers may also demand a ransom for not breaching the systems. Smaller businesses may give in to the fear and pay the ransom, which can lead to massive financial losses.

During cybercrime blackmail, hackers typically target weaknesses and flaws in the company systems and demand ransom. They can steal confidential information that can cause an uproar in the public if exposed.

Example of Cyber Extortion

Let’s say an email exchange between a company’s higher authorities contains information that can benefit their business rivals. A hacker may threaten to leak this information to the rivals. This leaves the company vulnerable to cyber extortion, i.e., they may have to pay a significant ransom to stop the hacker from releasing sensitive information.

Cyber blackmailing may start with infectious software distributed via spam emails or unverified websites. If a company executive accesses such emails or websites, they may unwittingly expose sensitive data, giving hackers a way into their systems.

Types of Cyber Extortion
  • Blackmail: Criminals steal personal information from individuals. These individuals are then told to pay a ransom. If they deny the payment, the criminals blackmail them by threatening to leak sensitive data to social media, friends, acquaintances, etc.

  • Ransomware: During ransomware extortion, cybercriminals infect the victims’ devices with malware, thus preventing them from accessing their devices. They force victims to pay a ransom to regain control of their devices. Ransomware can be a result of malware being downloaded by opening infected emails or clicking on a pop–up ad on a compromised website.

  • Denial–of–Service (DoS): In a DoS attack, the attacker shuts down the machine or network by sending information across a network and triggering a system crash. The attacker may also create situations where the company’s server receives significant traffic, causing it to slow down.

What are the Risks Associated with Cyber Extortion?

Companies that fall victim to cybercrime blackmail often suffer from financial and reputational losses. If a data breach occurs, criminals can access a vast customer database.

For instance, if you run a successful online apparel store, you may be accepting payments online via debit, credit cards, digital wallets, etc. These payment details are stored in the company’s database for reconciliation and tracking purposes. If a hacker gets access to customers’ card data, they can easily track down the bank details and steal their money. This means you have lost your potential regular customers and, in turn, lost money.

During a DoS attack, if the customer is unable to access your website, they may turn to competitor sites. This situation also leads to financial losses for your business.

Cyber extortion and cyber bullying are closely associated. A hacker may threaten to expose your sensitive information unless you pay a ransom or fulfil other demands laid down by them, which could be both monetary and non–monetary.

How to Secure Your Business from Cyber Extortion?

Here are ways you can protect your business from financial and reputation loss due to extortion.

  • Employee training: Provide adequate training to employees so they can identify and avoid phishing and spoofing emails.
  • Creating back–up: Maintain a data back-up, encrypt your sensitive information and implement a data recovery strategy.
  • Get cyber insurance: Cyber insurance protects your businesses from financial losses arising from cyber extortion and other cybercrimes.
How to Deal with Cyber Blackmail in India?

As an online business, you are susceptible to cyberattacks. Therefore, you must take all the preventive measures to stop hackers from probing your systems. However, if you are a victim, you must prioritise reporting cyber extortion to the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal.

The next step is to inform your insurance provider. With a cyber insurance policy, the insurer can cover you against the financial losses caused by the cyber blackmailing, up to a specific sum insured. The insurance policy reimburses you for funds paid as ransom to the extortionist. The policy also helps you pay the legal fees and the funds required to restore the critical data. Protect your business from cybercriminals by getting a cyber insurance policy today!

Disclaimer: The above information is indicative in nature. For more details on the risk factor, terms and conditions, please refer to the Sales Brochure and Policy Wordings carefully before concluding a sale.

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