ARIZONA— The FBI Phoenix Field Office aims to inform the public about swatting prevention methods for smart devices.
Swatting refers to hoax calls to emergency services that generally claim there is an immediate danger to human life. Swatting is a severe crime with serious repercussions, regardless of whether it is motivated by retaliation, employed as a form of harassment, or done as a prank. The intention is to alert the SWAT squad and law enforcement to a certain spot.
Attacks like these hinder emergency services’ ability to respond by diverting resources from real emergencies.
When criminals obtain access to a victim’s smart device, they use stolen email passwords to log in and take over capabilities like the camera for live streaming and the speakers. To make it seem as though the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone number, offenders frequently utilize spoofing technologies to anonymize their own phone numbers. Their credibility when speaking with dispatchers is increased by this.
The criminal interacts with the responding police through the camera and speakers when the police arrive at the property while watching the live stream footage. On some platforms used by shared online communities, the perpetrator also live-streams the incident.
There are ways to protect oneself if you have smart home devices with cameras and/or voice functionality:
- For online accounts, use complicated passwords or passphrases.
- Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.
- Regularly change your passwords and passphrases.
- Maintain proper online health.
- For any device that interacts with the Internet and all online accounts, use Multi Factor Authentication (MFA). Use a mobile phone number, virtual or real tokens, or biometric possibilities as an additional layer of authentication (such as a face or fingerprint scan).
More information about how to protect your smart devices can find out in the Nytimes article. Or you can browse our article as well which is 7 Safety and Security Recommendations for Your Smart Home Devices.
Make sure to report the incident to the authorities in your area if you believe you have been the victim of this kind of crime. You should also notify the FBI’s Internet Crime Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office if you think your email or other smart device credentials have been compromised.
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