Do not trust emails claiming that your system was hacked by a Russian hacker
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What kind of email is "I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system"?
After checking the "I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system" email, we determined that it is spam that operates as a sextortion scam.
This spam mail attempts to trick recipients into paying a ransom over nonexistent recordings. In other words, these emails state that the sender has made a compromising video featuring the recipient, and it will be leaked unless a ransom is paid. It must be emphasized that all the claims made by these spam letters are false.
"I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system" email scam overview
Spam emails with the subject "info Waiting for your payment." (may vary) claim that recipients' devices were hacked several months ago.
The nonexistent infection supposedly occurred when recipients visited an adult-oriented website. The fake malware was used to obtain the recipients' contacts/correspondence and to make a recording of them while they were visiting sites hosting explicit adult content (i.e., pornography).
The scam letters threaten that the video will be sent to the extracted contacts - unless recipients transfer $1000 in BTC (Bitcoin cryptocurrency) to the provided cryptowallet. The emails warn that the payment must be made within 50 hours.
Furthermore, they make false threats that the footage will be publicized if recipients disclose the contents of the spam letter.
As mentioned in the introduction, all the claims made by the "I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system" emails are fake, and they pose no threat to recipients.
|Name||"I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system" sextortion email|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Operating system was infected and manipulated to make an explicit recording featuring the email recipient.|
|Ransom Amount||$1000 in Bitcoin cryptocurrency|
|Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address||bc1q0tj9nn8vjz996vw5ywd0mwc240n8zefuejax52 (Bitcoin)|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.|
|Damage||Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Sextortion scam email examples
We have analyzed countless sextortion emails; "I broke into your computer system using the Wireless network router", "E-mail To You From An Account Of Yours", "Your system has been hacked with a Trojan virus", and "I have been watching you" are just some of our latest finds.
Spam mail is used for a wide variety of scams. For example, phishing - extracting sensitive data under false pretenses - is prevalent in email spam campaigns. Furthermore, deceptive emails are also used to distribute trojans, ransomware, and other malware.
Spam emails and messages are especially widespread - therefore, we strongly recommend exercising caution with incoming mail.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
How to avoid installation of malware?
We strongly advise against opening/clicking the attachments and links found in suspicious/irrelevant emails and messages - as that can result in a system infection. Additionally, we recommend using Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 - since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macro commands.
However, malware is not proliferated exclusively through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise downloading only from official and verified sources. Furthermore, software must be activated and updated using functions/tools provided by genuine developers - as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updates can cause infections.
We must emphasize the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and updated. Security programs must be used to perform regular system scans and to remove detected threats. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the "I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system" scam email letter:
Subject: info Waiting for your payment.
I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system.
I also have full access to your account.
I've been watching you for a few months now.
The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.
If you are not familiar with this, I will explain.
Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.
I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence.
Why did your antivirus not detect malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.
I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks.
I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.
If you want to prevent this,
transfer the amount of $1000 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: "Buy Bitcoin").
My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is: bc1q0tj9nn8vjz996vw5ywd0mwc240n8zefuejax52
After receiving the payment, I will delete the video and you will never hear me again.
I give you 50 hours (more than 2 days) to pay.
I have a notice reading this letter, and the timer will work when you see this letter.
Filing a complaint somewhere does not make sense because this email cannot be tracked like my bitcoin address.
I do not make any mistakes.
If I find that you have shared this message with someone else, the video will be immediately distributed.
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is "I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system" sextortion email?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious emails:
Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.
Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.
After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.
Emails with Malicious Attachments
Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.
In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.
If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.
While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.
This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.
To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.
How to spot a malicious email?
While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:
- Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
- Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
- Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
- Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.
To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
Example of a spam email:
What to do if you fell for an email scam?
- If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
- If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
- If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
- If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
- Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why did I receive this email?
Spam emails are not personal; thousands of users receive identical messages.
Was my computer actually hacked and does the sender have any information?
No, all the claims made by the "I am a Russian hacker who has access to your operating system" email - are fake. Therefore, this letter poses no threat to you.
How did cyber criminals get my email password?
There are several possible reasons. It could be a result of email "spoofing" (i.e., the scammers do not actually have access to your email account). It could be the case that you fell victim to a phishing scam at some point. For example, entered your email account log-in credentials to a fake email sign-in webpage (these sites are often promoted via spam urging to update the account, claiming that messages failed to reach the inbox, etc.). The least likely reason behind this would be a data breach on either your or a service provider's end.
I have sent cryptocurrency to the address presented in this email, can I get my money back?
Cryptocurrency transactions are virtually untraceable, and that makes them irreversible. Therefore, you will not be able to retrieve your funds.
I have provided my personal information when tricked by a spam email, what should I do?
If you've disclosed personally identifiable or other sensitive data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - immediately contact relevant authorities. And if you have provided log-in credentials - change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay.
I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?
No, opening a spam email will not result in a system infection. Malware download/installation processes are triggered when attachments or links present in these emails are opened.
I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?
If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) - most likely, yes - your system was infected. On the other hand, document formats (.pdf, .doc, .xls, etc.) may require additional actions (e.g., enabling macro commands) - to begin downloading/installing malware.
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?
Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate nearly all known malware infections. Note that running a complete system scan is crucial - as high-end malicious programs usually hide deep within systems.
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