Scary stuff on Halloween seems appropriate. I recently got an extortion email. Some miscreant had gotten one of my old passwords most likely through one of the highly publicized data breaches that have occurred over the last year. Said idiot threaten to pillage my finances, crash my computer, sully my reputation by spoofing my presence on porn sites and trashing my social media. To prevent this catastrophe all I needed to do was send money through bit coins to the address in the email. They even instructed on how to get bit coins and threatened even dire consequences if I called the cops. They said they were overseas so local cops couldn’t touch them. (Although they could be sitting at the local Starbucks.)
I googled extortion emails and the third hit was nearly word for word the email I received. My first thought was who buys into this crap. Then I pondered the sheer volume of emails that go out daily trying to extort money and realized that even a tiny success rate could provide a reasonable income to these criminals.
In a way I need to thank that criminal because I hadn’t done a password inventory for a couple of years. Done as you add passwords is simple but wait a couple of years and you have hundreds of passwords to evaluate. It took four plus hours to go over every password and change any that had been unchanged for too long. There are password managers out there that can help. Google password managers. This is on list of password managers that are highly rated.
Bottom line here is don’t reuse passwords and don’t succumb to the email threats that you will undoubtedly receive at some point. I suggest a password manager and a good list to start is in the link above. There are a wealth of unsavory characters out there who want to steal your money, your good name and just wreak havoc for havoc’s sake. Don’t make it easy for them.