Cyberattacks are not only growing in numbers, but also in variety and number of targets. In the old days, cyberattacks targeted corporations and focused on hacking bigger, more valuable systems. Today, even your baby monitor can be a target for a cyberattack. With the number of IoT devices on the market growing rapidly, this trend is only accelerating.
One of the attack types that has become very popular is a swatting attack. In simple terms, swatting is the act of directing law enforcement officers to a particular victim, usually as part of a prank or something that is done with malicious intent. You can protect yourself by using cheap proxies from reliable providers like Smartproxy, but before you do, here is what you need to know about the attack.
There have been many cases of Twitch streamers visited by SWAT teams in the middle of their streams. These are usually pranks pulled by someone who doesn’t like the streamer or the things they said. It’s a revenge attack, but one that involves legitimate law enforcement agencies.
That’s actually where the term “swatting” comes from; calling a SWAT team on your victim as a prank is far beyond what is acceptable. It is even illegal. Unfortunately, swatting attacks are becoming more common these days.
Swatting often happens to public figures who are streaming online. The goal of swatting is to incite a response, and the best way to see that response is by making sure that the victim is online – and streaming – when the attack happens.
Unfortunately, swatting is far from harmless. For the victim, swatting can be very dangerous. A failure to react appropriately to a law enforcement presence could result in more severe incidents. What started as a prank call to emergency services is now a dangerous act.
There are several reasons why swatting is popular, including:
- Swatting puts the victim in a lot of danger as well as a lot of trouble. When a SWAT team forcefully enters your house, it’s a traumatic incident.
- Swatting is becoming easier to pull, especially now that there are more ways to alert law enforcement agencies anonymously.
- More importantly, there are more ways to watch the attack happening beyond live streams started by the victim.
That last point brings us to the next thing to know about swatting attacks.
Being Watched Live
Swatters are becoming more advanced in how they launch their attacks. One of the new techniques they now use to make swatting attacks more dangerous is hijacking digital devices to watch the attacks unfolding. Weak security plaguing IoT devices – even the devices used by law enforcement such as body cameras – is the main reason why this is even possible.
Attackers usually hijack home IoT devices for the purpose of acquiring IP addresses. IP addresses acquired from these devices are then used to mask further attacks, including the hijacking of digital devices to watch swatting attacks unfolding live. In some cases, swatters can also engage responding officers directly.
IoT devices with video and voice capabilities are also more common in public places. CCTV cameras and PA systems are now internet-enabled and IP-based too. Combined with the devices used by those around the attack area as well as the law enforcement officers, attackers can watch events unfold in real-time.
Proxies and Other Tech
Another way that attackers can mask their presence is through proxy networks. You want to be extra careful when using free proxy networks because you may end up having your IP address, credentials, and other information exploited for this type of attack. Free proxy services act as honeypots for gathering your personal information.
On the other hand, attackers can also launch their attacks through proxy networks too. If the attackers don’t want to go through the trouble of hijacking hundreds – even thousands – of devices to build their own IP pools, they can rely on free proxies and exploit the residential proxy networks available to them.
Swatting attacks may not target you directly, but it is still a type of attack worth anticipating. You need to protect yourself from falling victim to swatting attacks or having your devices used for launching attacks on other victims. There are several simple things that you can do to increase your personal safety.
First, make sure you use proxies when connecting to the internet. A reliable and cheap proxy service can save you from a lot of trouble. You don’t have to worry about your IP address and devices being hijacked to launch swatting attacks.
A proxy protects you from being targeted too. Most attackers find out detailed information about their victims by tracking them online, and it all starts with finding the public IP address of the victim. Your IP address says a lot about who you are, where you live, and what activities you do online, including the devices you use to access websites.
Next, you can also protect yourself by implementing good security practices. Changing your passwords regularly and making sure that you use strong passwords to protect your accounts are steps that can be taken immediately. Using a different password for different accounts is also a must. Password managers can help you do that without any hassle.
Lastly, make sure you do a security audit regularly. Use longer, non-dictionary passwords. Make sure your accounts are only connected to services you recognize. Don’t forget to check your devices for signs of intrusion too (i.e. slow-downs at certain times). There are sites that help you identify if your online accounts and identity have been compromised.
Even law enforcement experts believe that it will be a while before swatting attacks can be prevented entirely. This is an old prank that has been turned into dangerous attacks for modern internet users. It’s better to protect yourself by taking the necessary steps than to be sorry.