“Swatting,” a hoax that is gaining in popularity, involves an unscrupulous person falsely reporting heightened danger at a specific location, to lure authorities to respond with lethal force. Brian Krebs reported on one of these incidents last week, which was triggered by an online game called Call of Duty–it ended with a fatality.
Cybercriminals can be hard to catch, protected by the anonymity that is inherent with the internet. Add to the mix people immersed in a virtual world of online gaming, and a dangerous disconnect can set in. When that distorted reality crosses the line into real world actions, the effects can be even more disturbing, endangering lives or well being.
Krebs tweeted about the swatting story and was eventually contacted by the perpetrator. Wrote Krebs, “He said the thrill of it ‘comes from having to hide from police via net connections…. Bomb threats are more fun and cooler than swats in my opinion and I should have just stuck to that,’ he wrote. ‘But I began making $ doing some swat requests.’”
The horrifying event has cast new spotlight on pending legislation aimed at internet crime. This past year, as Brian Crecente from Rolling Stone reports, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) introduced the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017, which would help local and federal officials investigate and prosecute online crimes, including swatting. Crecente adds, “Former game developer and U.S. House of Representatives candidate Brianna Wu also said on Twitter she’ll work to make swatting a federal crime if elected.”
As we inch closer to a time of driverless cars and more of our appliances and things talking to one another, the potential danger of cyber malice seems magnified. Cybersecurity technologies and legislation can help. But there also needs to be a cultural mind shift of greater awareness and responsibility with regard to online security.
Get the full story from Rolling Stone.