Cyber extortion: A threat to cyber security

The cyber threat is constantly changing, so here we highlight some of the most common threats so you know what to look out for.

30-08-2023 - 5 minute read. Posted in: hacking.

Cyber extortion: A threat to cyber security

The quick development of technology has had many positive effects, transforming the way we work, communicate, and live. However, this development has also given way to new types of criminal behavior, with cyber extortion being one of the most alarming.

By taking advantage of weaknesses in digital systems to extract money or other valuables with the threat of exposing confidential data or causing devastating damage, this cunning threat preys on people, companies, and even governments.

What is cyber extortion

As the name implies, cyber extortion is a type of cybercrime that uses forceful methods to take money or other valuable assets from victims. Cyber extortion uses the anonymity and global range of the internet to target people and organizations across borders, compared to traditional types of extortion that involve physical intimidation or threats.

Criminals frequently get unauthorized access to confidential data, systems, or networks and threaten to leak, destroy, or otherwise tamper with the data if their demands are not met.

Below we have listed some of the most common types of cyber extortion, so you are better prepared in cyberspace.

Common types of cyber extortion

Ransomware Attacks

The most well-known type of cyber extortion is probably ransomware. Attackers get access to a target's system, encrypt sensitive files, and then demand a ransom in return for the decryption key. Ransomware can have devastating effects, as high-profile incidents like the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks have shown, forcing victims to make difficult decisions about whether to pay the ransom or risk major economic and organizational issues.


Doxxing is the public disclosure of an employee's or an organization's confidential data such as identifying information, financial information, or classified documents. If victims don't comply with their requests, which may involve paying a certain amount of money, carrying out specific tasks, or even endorsing a certain cause, the cybercriminals will threaten to leak this information.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Attacks

Cybercriminals launch a DDoS attack when they overload a target's website or network with an enormous amount of traffic, causing it to be slow or inaccessible. Attackers then demand money in order to stop their attack and return everything to normal.

Data Breaches

Cybercriminals may hack into an organization's systems to steal sensitive data. Then, if the victim doesn't pay a ransom, they threaten to leak this information, which could end in reputational harm, legal repercussions, or regulatory fines.

IoT (Internet of Things) Extortion

As the IoT continues to expand, attackers can target vulnerable smart devices to gain control over them. They may demand payment to restore control to the device owner or to prevent a device's malfunction or misuse.

Some safety measures

As illustrated above, there are several types of cyber extortion that you should be aware of. All of them are motivated by money, so a cyber attack will evidently be costly for an organization - both financially but also when it comes to the risk of losing valuable data. So, we’ll give you a list of things you can do and implement to protect your organization from becoming the next cyber extortion victim.

  • Cybersecurity best practices: Installing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and strong encryption are all effective cybersecurity precautions. Update software and systems often to fix bugs and reduce the possibility of unauthorized access.

  • Awareness training: Inform staff members of the risks posed by phishing scams and the value of safe online behavior with awareness training. Encourage employees to check the legitimacy of e-mails and to avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown attachments.

  • Backup and recovery: Backup your data and computer systems frequently to safe external locations. Having recent backups can save you from having to pay a ransom to regain access to your data in the event of a ransomware attack.

  • Incident response plan: Create a thorough incident response plan that outlines what to do if you become a victim of a cyber extortion attempt. This ought to include steps for shutting down affected systems, getting in touch with law enforcement, and informing stakeholders.

  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): All key accounts and systems should have MFA enabled to add an additional layer of security. It’ll still take an additional authentication for an attacker to access your accounts, even if they have your password.

  • Vulnerability management: Assess and fix vulnerabilities in your systems and software on a regular basis. As known vulnerabilities are frequently used by cybercriminals to obtain access, it's important to have updated systems and apps.

  • Stay informed: Keep up with the most recent trends and threats in cybersecurity. You can better prepare for and safeguard yourself from possible attacks by being aware of how hackers' methods are changing.

  • Cyber insurance: To minimize potential financial losses caused by cyber extortion or other cybercrimes, consider investing in cyber insurance. Although insurance cannot stop a cyberattack, it can help you financially if one happens.

Final remarks

The risk of cyber extortion remains big in an increasingly digitized world, affecting people and organizations all over the world. A proactive and vigilant approach to cybersecurity is required in light of the constantly changing strategies that cybercriminals use.

You can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cyber extortion by establishing strong cybersecurity measures, educating yourself and employees, and staying up to date on new trends and threats.

Remember that maintaining the security of your digital assets with a combination of knowledge, planning, and commitment is the best defense against this sneaky cyberthreat.

Author Caroline Preisler

Caroline Preisler

Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.

View all posts by Caroline Preisler

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