Swatting: The Next Generation of Cyber Attacks

SWAT TeamCall spoofing is a service that allows anyone to call a phone number and make the caller ID show any number that user desires. For example, using the service, you can call a friend and make it appear as if his own home phone is calling him. The real purpose of this service is likely mere entertainment, but in reality it has been causing a lot of chaos lately.

This service has been gaining media coverage for its role in the News of the World voicemail hacking scandal, and now it seems that hackers are using call spoofing to launch a new breed of cyber attack; and not the type that gets your passwords stolen, but might get you shot.

Referred to as “swatting,” this malicious act fakes a phone call to police, getting them to send out a SWAT team to a victim’s house. Unlike a regular prank call, this call appears authentic as the call spoofing service makes it seem as if the call is coming from the house that police are being asked to come to.

Just imagine walking outside of your home to the sight of a heavily armed SWAT team aiming guns at you, getting ready to fire at any sign of resistance. Not only is this something that can scar a person mentally and emotionally, it might also get them shot and killed.

For a growing number of people, such as Louise Gray’s family, this wasn’t something to be left to the imagination. It seems that a hacker that has been targeting the family for about a year now finally decided to step up his cyber bullying campaign on the family and launch one of these swatting attacks on them.

“There was the SWAT team all along the neighbour’s yard pointing guns at me and telling me to put my hands up,” Gray said.

After being apprehended by police and finding out why they were at her house, Gray was told that a call was made from her home phone to police saying that there was a double murder and a hostage situation. As you can imagine, there was nothing of the sort happening, and police figured out that it was indeed an attack launched by a hacker.

However, locating the hacker still remains a problem. There are so many different services that could have routed the call, and the spoofing service makes it even harder for police to trace the call back to a hacker. But just because this is something that might be hard to trace back to a hacker, don’t you get any ideas; a few years back a man did the exact same thing to a victim’s home and ended up going to prison for three years and paying a $14,000 fine.

So what can you do if this unfortunate and malicious attack is carried out on your home? At the moment there isn’t much besides being calm and obeying the police officer’s requests in order to be able to explain the situation. Hopefully, police will find a way to fight against this attack and will come up with a simple and effective way to trace these calls back to their origins.

(Via CBC) / (Image by OregonDOT licensed under Creative Commons)

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