There’s a new email scam making the rounds demanding bitcoin unless you comply. Here’s how to protect yourself.

A new phishing scam with a twist

In this scam, you’ll receive an email with one of your current or old passwords in the subject line. It will say that the attacker has installed malware on your computer and that they now have video of you watching adult content. They’ll then attempt to extort money from you by demanding a bitcoin payment or they’ll send the video to your friends and family.

How it works

The password, which may really be an old password of yours, was likely bought by the attacker from a database of leaked passwords. Any video that the attacker has attached is fake and they haven’t installed malware on your computer. But they’re hoping to scare you into sending them money.

Here's one example of these scam emails:

example of a bitcoin scam email

How to protect yourself

There are some ongoing, simple steps we should all be taking to proactively protect our devices from cyber threats like installing anti-malware and anti-virus software on our computers and choosing secure passwords. A few more tips:

  • Use unique passwords, especially for your sensitive accounts like your main email account and online banking
  • Delete all phishing and scam emails immediately and don’t click on any links

And don’t send bitcoin payments to scammers.