Hackers strike on Instagram and Snapchat to rip off young people

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The Antwerp public prosecutor warns young people against hackers on social media. The prosecutor’s office speaks of a new trend, in which the hackers want to steal intimate images of victims in order to extort them.

The hackers seem to be hitting young people who log on to Instagram or Snapchat via a public Wi-Fi network. Because their smartphone is often not sufficiently secured, the perpetrators can thus take control. “From that moment on, hackers deliberately send messages to all kinds of contacts, but they mainly target friends of their victim,” explains spokesperson Kristof Aerts of the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office.

Those messages contain an unsafe link, but because the message appears to be from friends, the recipients often click the link open. “At that time, their own device is also hacked and the criminals can loot sensitive information, such as intimate images. This means that the girls are extorted to send even more intimate images,” said Aerts.

The public prosecutor’s office has already received two files, but it already showed that there must be many more victims. So it speaks of a trend. It seems to have come over from the Netherlands, where a few young people were previously the victims. “The consequences for the victims can be very serious. The Public Prosecution Service is conducting a thorough investigation into the facts,” says Aerts.

How can you prevent this?

– Be careful with public wifi. Use a VPN connection or only surf to websites with an https address.

– Make sure your smartphone or laptop is sufficiently protected.

– Change your passwords regularly and choose strong (long) passwords.

– Keep your profile private as much as possible.

– Make sure that you can only be contacted on social media by people you know.

What can victims do?

– Never give in to the extortion.

– Block whoever contacted you to extort you and prevent strangers on social media from contacting you.

– Contact the social media provider to report the abuse.

– Also contact the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men or Childfocus if you are a minor.

– File a complaint with the police.

– Let your social media know that you have been hacked so that your contacts are also careful with messages they received from you.

– Don’t just sit there and talk about it with friends or parents. Teleonthaal or Awel for minors are also there to help you.

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