David Beckham, a victim of ransomware

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Celebrity status opens up more opportunities to be blackmailed, and David Beckham is no exception with a £1 million ransomware demand.

All data has value, and it is important for anyone to protect their private and confidential information, and global superstars are no exception. We have seen a host of celebrity cloud accounts hacked and data leaked over the past few years, but now we are seeing different tactics used for financial gain.

David Beckham was victim to ransomware blackmail to avoid an embarrassing email leak. Hackers tried to extort £1 million from Mr. Beckham, saying they would not leak his emails if he agreed to pay the ransom.

The ransomware came through on Mr. Beckham’s PR agency emails, where Russian servers are believed to have accessed millions of messaged and documents in order to find something to pin on Mr. Beckham.

The alleged emails are said to be a conversion between the publicist and Mr. Beckham suggesting the attempts to use charity work as a part of David Beckham’s knighthood campaign.

The cyber criminals were said to have demanded one million euros, just under £1 million, not to expose these ‘sensitive’ emails.

David Beckham did not pay the ransomware demands and instead sought professional help.

Mark James, ESET IT Security Specialist, talks about what to do if you are being cyber blackmailed and offers his professional advice.

“Celebrities are always going to be a high level target when it comes to cyber criminals and blackmail.

“In all cases of blackmail, including ransomware, there is a chance that even if you do pay the initial payment there is nothing stopping the criminals from asking for more money once you have paid.

“In this case your choices are fairly limited.

“Do they actually have the material? Do I want it in the public domain? What if they want more money?

“The problems with a digital ransom is they could easily make copies to use later or sell on to other sources and you’re back to square one!

“The most sensible thing to do here is not pay the ransom, notify the police and deal with the outcome.

“The emails themselves may or may not be released, and of course knowing they could easily be manipulated to bring disrepute to the owner means you have no real control of how they may be received by the public: honesty is the best policy.”

Have you ever been the victim of ransomware? How did you react? Let us know on Twitter @ESETUK

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