Revenge porn occurs when a cyberbully steals compromising images of a woman, without her consent, and posts them, along with personal identifying information, on the black market (aka Dark Web).
How does one end up on a revenge porn website? Usually an accomplished hacker is commissioned by a cyber-thug to break into a computer system and abscond with a woman’s intimate photos. In extreme cases, the hacker infects a woman’s computer with a Trojan program that secretly activates her webcam allowing said hacker to capture naked images. Some revenge porn criminals are graphic design experts with the ability to Photoshop a woman’s head on to another woman’s body.
Computer espionage is not the only way to debut on a revenge porn website. Women who take risqué selfies to share with a new love interest, their significant other, and in some cases, their spouse, risk digital exposure if the images fall into the wrong hands. Just as the name implies, if the relationship goes south, suddenly, these photos can quickly become a woman’s worst nightmare.
Revenge porn sites are generally found on the Dark Web. This shadowy underworld isn’t accessible through traditional browsers or indexed by Google. Instead, many sites are accessed via Tor and include some pretty nefarious activities such as selling weapons and child pornography. Tor provides anonymity — it’s the Internet’s electronic black market.
For a woman who finds herself exploited on a revenge porn website, regaining her identity and demanding the removal of the pictures is no easy task. Because the major premise of the Dark Web is anonymity, it’s difficult to determine the owner of a revenge porn website. Even if that information is attainable, a woman may fall victim to extortion as she is commanded to pay a fee if she wants the pictures taken down. In many cases copyright infringement is the only way to legally cease the display of nude images.
How can a woman protect herself from acts of revenge porn?
#1 – Don’t take nude photos of yourself. Period.
#2 – Don’t text naked pictures of yourself. It’s a mistake to assume the recipient won’t ever share your image with someone else, even if you tell them not to.
#3 — If you currently maintain compromising selfies and are unwilling to delete them, understand you bare some risk of exposure. Even if those photos are not shared with anyone else, revenge porn hackers have the ability to pluck photos right off of your cell phone or online picture depository. If the IRS and Sony can get hacked, so can you.
It’s not just adult women who are at risk when it comes to revenge porn, our teenage girls are vulnerable as well. To protect the young women in your life, talk to them about sexting and even the risk of revenge porn. Admonish them not to send sexually charged text messages or nude images of themselves to anyone – not their besties or their boyfriend. Unfortunately (or fortunately), relationships change and someone who you thought was trust worthy when you first met them could turn out to betray you with pictures you took during the “good times.”