Dalziel: My ransom demand experience

Mayor Lianne Dalziel was the target of the scam. PHOTO: FILE

I’m writing this week’s column about cyber security, after my experience on the weekend.

Fortunately I had read a friend’s tweet on exactly this subject before I received my ‘ransom email’, otherwise I might not have known what to do. I’ve now reported it to Netsafe NZ and CERT NZ, the Government authority on cyber security. They both knew about it already and gave excellent advice.

The ‘Fake-tortian Email Scam’ (which is what Netsafe NZ is calling it) tells you it’s installed malware on an ‘adult’ website – I’ve never visited such a site.

It says unless money is paid through Bitcoin, a video they’d made would be emailed to my 13 friends. Really? Only 13 friends. So I knew it was a scam from the start. But it created the impression that they could take control of the person’s computer and use the webcam. I believed that was rubbish due to my friend’s tweet. But it could be frightening to some people.

As a result of this happening, I’ve learned a lot about how people’s emails (and even passwords) can get into this dark place.

Both Netsafe NZ and CERT NZ have a lot of information about the types of threats that exist and how to keep safe. They both referred to a site called ‘Have I been Pwned?’ – and sure enough my personal email had been compromised in three data breaches over the past few years.

Naturally I’ve changed my password several times since then.

I was lucky this was just a scam. It could have been serious. And I’m lucky my work emails are protected by a system that blocked this email even coming through. But it has been a timely reminder about the need for strong passwords and introducing two factor authentication personal emails. I’m onto it.

•If you want to ask Ms Dalziel a question, email mayor@ccc.govt.nz.
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