A 19-year-old Southern California computer student has pleaded guilty to hacking into the webcam of Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, and is now facing a federal prison sentence.
Jared James Abrahams hacked into the computers of at least two dozen women - including beauty queen Cassidy Wolf - and secretly took photographs of them in states of undress via their webcams.
Abrahams then threatened to post the intimate pictures on social media websites, unless his victims agreed to send additional photos or stripped off during a Skype video chat.
You can imagine just how wretched the young female victims - agreed between 16 years old and their early 20s - must have felt. Indeed, as I have reported before, people who have been blackmailed in this way have in the past tragically turned to suicide.
The BBC reports that Abrahams has now pleaded guilty to three counts of extortion and one count of unauthorized access of a computer, and is likely to serve over two years in a federal prison.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in March.
To her credit, Cassidy Wolf, who apparently was a classmate of Abrahams, did not buckle to his blackmail threats, and has used her platform as a beauty pageant winner to warn other young people of the risks posed by webcams.
As the hacker's guilty plea was heard, the Miss Teen USA winner posted a message on Twitter:
— K. Lee Graham (@MissTeenUSA) November 12, 2013
If you’re worried that hackers might be able to see you through your webcam, take care over the links you click on and the software you install on your computer, keep your security patches and anti-virus software up-to-date and consider sticking a band-aid over the webcam when you don’t want to use it.
And, if you're sexually inadequate, and thinking of getting some cheap kicks out of hacking into other people's webcams, realise that you might well end up stuck in a prison cell with just cold porridge for company.