FBI warns of hackers taking over smart devices to livestream swatting incidents


Posts: 6,930   +62
Staff member
In a nutshell: Swatting—the act of calling 911 to report a fake crime so armed responders storm an address—is bad enough, but perpetrators of this crime are adding an extra element of unpleasantness by hacking victims' smart devices and streaming the entire incident.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning smart home device owners to use complex, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication to protect against swatting attacks.

Criminals utilize the tried and tested method of harvesting email addresses and passwords from previous leaks, taking advantage of users who reuse credentials—a common practice, despite warnings not to use duplicates.

Once a hacker gains access to a smart home device with video and audio capabilities, the hoax call is made. An offender can watch the entire incident take place and "engages with the responding police through the camera and speakers," the FBI said. "In some cases, the offender also live streams the incident on shared online community platforms."

The FBI is working with smart device manufacturers to advise customers about the scheme. The agency is also alerting law enforcement first responders to the threat.

As noted by ZDNet, some swatters have been targeting public live-streamed events, such as weddings and church meetings, for a few years now, and plenty of gaming streamers have fallen victim in the middle of live broadcasts, but hacking into home smart devices is a new variant of the attack.

In 2017, what's thought to have been the first swatting death occurred, reportedly the result of a $1.50 wagered Call Of Duty online match. Tyler Barriss received a 20-year prison sentence in 2019 for making the call that resulted in the death of Andrew Finch, who was not involved in the online altercation.

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Posts: 5,056   +5,664
I’m not sure what’s worse: the fact that there are people out there who will make false reports in order to provoke police actions on another person knowing that there is a possibility that the victim could be maimed or killed…

… Or the fact that police are so incompetent and predictable that people know exactly what they need to do in order to trigger the use of deadly force against someone else.

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,052   +6,818
While the first conviction received a sizeable prison sentence, it needs to be much more widely published and to make it clear that these penalties have no age barrier. It's bad enough our police now practice a policy of "ready, shoot, aim" but the justice system fails to realize that by not prosecuting each and every police officer that engages in such activity, it actually encourages it. More importantly, there needs to be a series of FEDERAL laws addressing police training, monitoring, and conduct. Too many states have very lax policies that encourage police to test the waters ..... with our lives!


Posts: 634   +552
Anyone remember that game SWAT by Sierra from waaaay back in the day? In the intro, a police chief emphasizes that the purpose of SWAT was to SAVE lives, and any death in a SWAT incident was seen as a failure by the SWAT team. Is this no longer the case? How did an innocent man get killed by a SWAT team if they were trained from the get go to save lives?