The definition of swatting is the action of making a prank call to emergency services to dispatching large amount to a particular address. Now, imagine yourself in a scenario, you’re with your family either having dinner or watching television in the living room, whatever you do with your family. Then, all of a sudden multiple loud bangs come from the door with someone shouting “police department open up!”. Confused on the matter of what’s going on you cautiously open the door with a bunch of shouts and assault rifles with lights pointed at you. Ordering you to get down they arrest you, then proceed to clearing the rest of the house. This outrageous new trend that computer hackers use the swat team as a joke or even threats to the victim has been an issue for more than 6 yrs. These hoax callers aka swatter have targeted numerous of victims such as Youtubers, streamers, celebrity’s, gamers and especially women on social media. People’s privacy seems to be easily accessible especially from the recent issue of Facebook the ‘Cambridge Analytics data scandal’ in March of 2018. Where companies and politician were buying personal information. This shows that anyone’s information isn’t safe on social media everyone runs the chance of being swatted.
Swatting made news coverage back in 2012 when no one really knew how big of a deal it would soon become in the future. Hunter Gelinas was 15 at the time when he first got swatted by the cause of online gaming on the Xbox 360. Through an online dispute, hackers are able to access other victim internet connection using their IP address from a software. Matthew Weigman was 19 years of age at the time he was arrested in Boston Massachusetts being the first to be caught for swatting 50-60 victims. Matthew made a name for himself meeting other hackers that would use their advantage of having access to their personal data to receive phone sex or else. When a woman would refuse phone sex they would “call the police in her hometown, scrambling the caller ID to conceal his identity”. (Kushner). Matthew saw this as a hobby instead of playing video games or having a social life, he enjoyed having control over others demanding what he desired. An FBI agent soon discovered him when he was a minor but would give him a chance to walk away before he turned 18. (Kushner). Now he has been locked up since 2008 and is serving 11 years in federal prison. The biggest incident was back in 2017 in December where an innocent bystander ended up died from swatting. Andrew Finch a father of two, who was shot at his front door when he moved unexpectedly, in Wichita, Kansas. The suspect, Tyler Barriss that made the hoax emergency call was a Los Angeles resident that was an approximately 1,379 miles apart from Kansas. Andrew Finch died over a game dispute that he wasn’t apart of because Tyler Barriss gave the wrong address. Since his death they passed a bill that would punish hoax callers in Kansas. U.S Rep. Katherina Clark also pushed for a bill against swatters in 2015 for Massachusetts, soon after she would experience a swatting encounter waiting for the approval to pass. U.S Rep. Ted Lieu also pushed for a bill as he too was a victim of swatting back in 2013 for California. The swatter was identified as Mir Islam, a 22-year-old that targeted celebrity’s and exposing personal data. Clark makes a valued point arguing “that federal law are needed because incidents like the one that led to Finch’s death occur across state lines” (‘Swatting’ and Punishment). There’s a lot of different laws in other states that would make prosecution a bit difficult figuring out what laws can be applied. Kevin Poulsen knows how hacking works like gathering personal data, credit cards, and tap into phone lines. He’s spent two years in federal prison and soon devoted to writing. He’s known partner’s that have made billions by others person accounts. Poulsen says that its easily to get hack software’s are being developed to make it easy for a user.
Deploying the swat team spends $10,000 of handling the situation. Celebrity’s like Rihanna, P.Diddy, Ashton Kutcher and many more in 2013. How I discovered swatting was when watching a YouTuber, Jordan Mathewson aka Kootra, live stream when he says “I believe we are being swatted”. This was in 2014 when I was 16, in my head I thought it mean as a raid where he was going to get robbed but he seems like he could have been joking until you can see the police burst into the door.
Nowadays everyone in any state run the risk of becoming a victim. Especially due to the fact that a bill has to pass after the incident has occurred. A couple ways to avoid being swatted is to not have personal data be on social media. Having your credit card on auto-renewal on any gaming system would benefit hackers. There aren’t much solutions that would help police department detect whether the call is legit or not. The police force would take their job seriously no matter what. Some agents are cracking down on hackers but there’s still a majority in the states or in a different country.
Talking about the fatal death of finch it explains a bit of his background. It also explains the whole meaning of swatting in a few paragraphs. I used this to have some more details of how swatting is seen in different ways.
Ducharme, Jamie. “Swatting led to an Innocent Man’s Death in Kansas. Here’s What to Know about It. “Time.com, 31 Dec.2017, p.1
This article helps me understand of how much can a hacker get a hold of. Hackers are able to shut down electrical devices through their own computer using the internet. Personal data is easily accessible especially company’s. Also how the people have learned the internet since 2005 and taught themselves how to access many things.
Kugler, Logan. “How a Supervillain (or a Hacker in His Basement) Could Destroy The Internet. Communications of The ACM, vol. 59, no.2, Feb, 2016, pp.18-20
This Article was also used to get me more information on Matthew Weigman. His case was informative that he openly admitted all his do wronging. He explained everything form when he was a kid that he enjoyed of what he was doing.
“Individual Pleads Guilty in Swatting Conspiracy Case”, The FBI, Jan 29, 2009.
Will tracking digital harassment help defend against the internet was summarize the bill that Rep. Katherine Clark. Didn’t know that Clark was swatted similar to Ted Liau. Also explaining how of states don’t have the same bill or don’t know what swatting is.
Easton, Joshua. “Will Tracking Digital Harassment Help Defend Against Internet Trolls?” Christian Science Monitor, 19 Sep, 2016. SIRS Issue Researchers