Invasion of privacy and security has taken on a new and deadly turn with the increase of a prank referred to as “Swating”. In this situation, a caller that may be many miles away, calls into the 911 emergency services to make a false report. The police respond, often storming a residence, and in the case of an unarmed Kansas man and father of two, he was shot and killed. These false emergency reports have been on the rise as perpetrators seemed to feel that they have discovered a method to enact various states of revenge by using the police and SWAT teams as their “weapons”, and it appear that many of those instituting the calls center in the gaming community.
The Kansas man, whose family indicated that he didn’t play video games, is just one of the victims of this new and deadly criminal act of swating. The name is taken after the trained “SWAT” teams (Special Weapons and Tactics) paranormal groups that are called in to deal with high level danger and to assist local police departments. But those that are involved in the falsified calls are not always gamers, as hackers have discovered that this is an excellent method of potentially removing individuals that are involved in uncovering crimes of those involved in the dark net and hacking communities.
In 2013, one of the most highly rated cybersecurity journalists, Brian Krebs, of Fairfax County, Virginia, had his home accosted by a SWAT team, as they had received a report that the residence was involved in a horrible crime. Krebs, is known as a writer that uncovers many of the emerging internet crimes, and had previously reported to the local police that someone was attempting to “spoof” a 911 call from his home. In this situation, the perpetrators attacked his internet service with a DoS as well as receipt of a fake FBI letter sent to the company that protects his internet service.
“Making use of low tech avenues, such as calling emergency services and making false reports, is yet another set of actions that criminals are taking advantage of to inflict vindictive behavior. Local authorities are now alerted to this and we work with individuals as well as companies to assist in the steps and actions that you can take to protect yourself from these types of attacks. Whether from a hacker or a childish gamer, the results can be deadly.”
Da Vinci Forensics
Calling emergency services has been set up for ease and convenience for those that are truly in a state of distress. This makes it an easy access point for anyone that wants to wreak havoc. Hackers make use of originating phone calls from sources that are often hundreds of miles away so that tracking down the criminals responsible is tedious and takes valuable time. The emergency teams that are the first responders to these circumstances are trained to act in a state of immediacy, assuming that a crime is occurring and that there may be weapons or people that are in harm’s way.