With the steep rise in incidents of cyber extortion making headlines across the globe in countries like Sweden, USA, Finland, and many more, we’re sure you’ve heard the term before. What is cyber extortion and why is this troublesome trend gaining traction? Cyber extortion comes in various forms, but simply put, it occurs when cybercriminals threaten professionals and industry experts with dire consequences in exchange for a ransom. The phenomenon continues to become more commonplace as cyber attacks and theft is the fastest-growing crime today. Cybercrime statistics show that by 2021, damages will reach a staggering figure of USD 6 trillion. Such extortionists have done their homework well and know that if they want to get paid, they need to threaten the individual with life-altering consequences. This could range from fraud, identity theft, and extortion online to releasing incriminating information to malign the individual’s reputation.
So how does the extortion start? Well, usually with an email asking the unsuspecting target to pay up… or else. Cybercrime is growing by leaps and bounds across the world. Moreover, it is no longer limited solely to cybercriminals and online predators who carry out ransomware attacks and hold data hostage. With the increasing availability of advanced hacking toolkits, evolving malware as well as the sophistication of hacking techniques, these nefarious individuals and agencies can gain access to networks, systems as well as information with the sole aim to extort money.
Scam artists can carry out extortion by threats targeting individuals and corporations in several ways. This includes the shutting down of critical activities, networks, and operations, publishing sensitive articles to create propaganda on social media using information from online or other sources such as manipulated interpretations, claiming internal secrets and internal emails, as well as releasing news updates, etc. Additionally, cyber blackmail extortion includes not only the ransom cost but also the cost of dealing with the incident itself, which could potentially include fraud protection measures, crisis management experts and special consultancy services.
For Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari, the damage caused by such individuals and parties of disrepute hits much closer to home. By refusing to give in to the unreasonable demands of such extortionists, he has experienced first-hand the damage it can cause to a serious, accomplished academic, not just professionally, but personally as well. Becoming the victim of such a vicious personal attack has inevitably caused him irreparable damage and loss of credibility.
Since late 2017, Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari has been subjected to the threats of extortionists who have demanded hefty ransoms or else promised to tarnish the name of the good professor. After standing up to the scam artists, Professor Ashutosh Tiwari was forced to bear the brunt of their wrath. By sharing false and unverified documentation on their blogs, they have led to the unwarranted screening of Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari’s outstanding academic credentials. Over the course of over a year and a half, Dr. Tiwari has been a victim of what he believes is a witch hunt out to sabotage his career and credibility.
Recently, there has been a drastic rise in cases where popular academics and industry professionals such as Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari have fallen prey to individuals known as cyber-extortionists. By making successful, high net worth professionals the target of their campaigns, they attempt to malign the hard-earned reputation of these people who work tirelessly and are dedicated to their profession. Through the means of valuable and easily accessible personal data available online, prospective victims such as scientists, researchers, doctors, lawyers, as well as corporate executives are commonly targeted and harassed.
Did you know that cyber attacks constituted the third-largest global threat in 2018? It seems as if traditional cybercriminals have left the art of stealing credit cards and personal information behind. Their motto is: why steal money when you can simply demand it? This multimillion dollar criminal industry continues to trend upwards as it intersects the paths of everyone from state and local governments, as well as healthcare and law enforcement organizations.
Through an infamous tactic known as email-based cyber extortion, individuals receive emails threatening them that their personal information will be released on social media for the world to see unless the extortionists’ demands are met. These email threats can include everyone in the individual’s social media network, family, and friends. Besides the obvious financial implications, one can’t even imagine the personal and professional harm caused to the individual.
Today, the online reputation of an individual or a company is everything. With all brands both big and small establishing an online presence through websites, social media, and blogs, they become easy targets for trolls. The anonymity offered by the internet becomes a veil that masks the identity of these individuals, allowing them to post whatever they wish to without having to bear any consequences for their actions.
While the Internet is a great place offering countless benefits, it also has a major downside. It can bring out the worst in people. Social media savvy public figures, entrepreneurs and technocrats such as Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari use it to connect with their fans and followers, in this case, peers, colleagues, students, researchers and other individuals in their network. By sharing information about the latest updates and events in the field of advanced materials, Professor Ashutosh Tiwari makes sure that his readers and followers don’t miss out on any news and innovations. He also shares details about popular events organized by the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM), Sweden, such as the Advanced Materials Congress, Baltic Congress Series and World Congress Series.
In the aftermath of the online attacks intended to damage his reputation, Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari and his organizations- including the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM), Sweden, VBRI Group, mHospitals, and many more have become the target of unsavory characters who are incessantly trolling his posts and blogs with unsubstantiated claims about his professional and educational background. Christening Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari a “fake professor” who organizes “fake conferences,” they have reached out to speakers and discouraged them from participating in conferences organized by IAAM that has hosted over 12,000 delegates from over a hundred countries till date.
The field of advanced materials is new and exciting with technological advancements moving full speed ahead. With the endless scope and untapped potential for learning, research, and development, pioneers such as Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari are catalysts who are helping the expansion and innovation in advanced materials. A technocrat entrepreneur, he believes in the ideology of “committed to excellence,” and his Institute of Advanced Materials offers invaluable services in translational research such as training and consultancy to all those who wish to leave their mark on the world of advanced materials science, such as students, researchers, academics and professionals.
Carrying forward his noble ambition that originated from humble beginnings, Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari dreams of making life-changing contributions to resolving key challenges in the medical, security, energy supply and environmental sector with the development of state-of-the-art technology systems. In his journey to changing the landscape of advanced materials and impacting future generations, Dr. Tiwari has already received plenty of recognition and awards for his notable contributions to advanced materials, nanoscience, and nanotechnology. He is the founder of the non-profit organization, International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM), that has transformed the lives of many budding young scientists and researchers by offering global networking opportunities and scholarships. Since 2009, Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari has also been conferred with several adjuncts and honorary professor titles.
Ashutosh Tiwari is a strong believer of the philosophy of corporates coming together to form alliances and build a strong business network through mutual understanding and cooperation, exchange of ideas and work methodologies, and sharing of infrastructure. This leads to the creation of one big consolidated global family of researchers, scientists, and academicians who are devoted to their work and ready to share information, knowledge, and resources with those in need. Together, they can all work towards the ideology of “committed to excellence” and make much-needed contributions to the society at a high level, making the world a better, more sustainable place for future generations.
To promote law education in rural areas, Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari started Dr. Ganesh Prasad Law College in his hometown, where as many as 200 law professionals (advocates) graduate every year. He provides scholarships to rural students to help them support their tuition fees. He also successfully established the Vinoba Bhave Research Institute (VBRI), Innovation Centre and field study center for translational research, innovation, and technology developments to end-users in the area of energy, healthcare, and environment.
With such a clear goal in mind, Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari has been steadfastly working towards realizing it. And when bad elements such as cyber extortionists carry out a smear campaign to discredit all his years of tireless hard work, one can imagine the pain, embarrassment, not to mention the loss of his hard-earned credibility and reputation in social and academic circles across the globe.
In light of recent unfounded allegations of fraud, predatory practices, and other malicious rumors, Prof. Ashutosh Tiwari has decided to speak up against his accusers, albeit reluctantly, after having kept mum on the subject for far too long. An introvert by nature who is wholeheartedly dedicated to his profession, he prefers to stay out of the limelight and let his work speak for himself. He feels that by giving such gossip undue importance, he will only feed fodder to it which will shift focus from the important work that he does. Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari feels that he has been unjustly subjected to a conspiracy and maybe he’s not the only one.
Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari says,” I have unfairly been targeted by a certain blogger who has been publishing defamatory articles for over a year now. While such incidents are becoming common in the competitive world of academia, what hurts the most is that they don’t realize how they are impacting all the good work we’re trying to do.” He continues, “A personal attack might have been acceptable, but by maligning our organization and educational research institute located in Sweden and India respectively, they will cause irreparable harm to the global community of academics and researchers. By placing us under such intense scrutiny, they have attracted bad publicity and have inadvertently hampered the careers of so many young students and professionals seeking scholarships and grants for potentially life-changing research.”
Having personally experienced the kind of financial and mental trauma victims of cyber-extortionists can cause, we also know that we are not alone. This is not the first time an honorable and respected academic has been attacked and it won’t be the last. With cyber bullying and cyber harassment becoming so rampant in schools, universities, and institutes, it seems that students aren’t the only ones being targeted. If you or anyone you know is on the receiving end of extortion threats by unsavory characters, here’s what you can do.
As part of our initiative to stand up to cyber extortionists and protect members of the academic community, Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari’s research institute in Sweden, International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM) has decided to open its doors to individuals who are being similarly targeted by extortionists. At present, Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari serves as the Secretary-General of the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM). The organization has formed a cell of highly reputed scientists, journalists, publishers, academic leaders, legal and internet experts to investigate and prevent such attacks against academia in the future. We should stand together to safeguard the careers of bright and promising scientists. Having been victims ourselves, we believe that it is a cardinal sin to sit back and watch as dedicated and hardworking scientists’ careers come to an abrupt end because of internet trolls who thrive on the attention and money. It is high time that educated, respected and upstanding citizens like us joined hands in protest against such activities. Tomorrow, anyone of us can unwittingly become a victim of online trolls and have their online reputation tarnished through no fault of their own. The International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM) is setting an example by taking timely and stringent action to save the global materials community from such propaganda, fake news, online trolling, cyberstalking and other criminal activities.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us at the International Association of Advanced Materials, Sweden. Join us and say “NO” to extortion!
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