'I’ve just been pwned': My experience of an ugly practice with an ugly name
(Source: smh.com.au)

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(Original link: smh.com.au)

Kasey Edwards Writer June 2, 2020 — 12.00am June 2, 2020 — 12.00am I’ve just been pwned. It’s an ugly word, for a practice that’s uglier still. For the uninitiated, the term “pwned” refers to a situation where your personal data has been compromised by cyber criminals. The word is a corruption of “owned”, as if you have been defeated so thoroughly that your opponent literally owns you.
Sometimes that means the cyber criminals actually do have enough personal data to cause you harm — such as locking you out of your computer and charging a ransom to regain access — while in other cases they have just enough information on you to hope that you will be fooled into complying with their demands.
It's important to keep your head when you think your personal information has been compromised. Credit:
In my case, I received an email with one of my passwords in the subject line. The body of the email said that I had been hacked, they had access to my contacts list and spyware had been monitoring my online behaviour.
It said they tracked me visiting porn sites and had been using my camera to film me masturbating. If I didn’t cough up $US2000 in Bitcoin in 24 hours they would send the video to random people in my contacts list.
Advertisement Fortunately, I hadn’t visited any porn sites and the password, while legitimate, was from a data breach years back, from a long-forgotten service. After re-reading the email, it was clear the scammers had nothing that would harm me. If they had, surely they would have revealed it.
But I did feel threatened. What makes pwning such a powerful form of extortion is that almost everyone has something they wouldn’t want shared with their contacts list. If people think they have nothing to hide then they very often are not thinking hard enough.
Loading In many cases, pwning is less a crime about technology and more a crime about psychology. Scammers know that the most powerful weapon in their arsenal isn’t computer power and technical smarts. It’s fear.
As most security experts will tell you, the greatest point of failure in our cyber defences isn’t the technology. It’s between the keyboard and the back of the chair: the user. Inducing people to do dumb things online is often easier for scammers — and more lucrative — than breaking sophisticated encryption systems. And cybercrime has been on the rise during the pandemic .
If you are pwned, keep your wits and determine if the threat is real or if it’s just smoke and mirrors, because these scams often depend on you panicking and making a wrong move.
And if you want to check if your personal data may have been compromised, enter your email into haveibeenpwned.com and see if you need to change a password or three....