The internet has brought many great things to the table and has improved the lives of people in various ways. And yet, it’s not all so wonderful once you take a deeper look beneath the surface. There are some more disturbing aspects of the modern internet, and people often aren’t keen on acknowledging those. Swatting is a relatively recent trend that’s started to get a disturbing amount of popularity.
Even though the consequences can be shocking, some people don’t see it as anything more than a prank. But the reality is that it’s as far from that as you could get.
What Is This About?
The basic idea is that an attacker, after finding out the real-life address of a victim, would call 911 and pretend that there’s something serious going on in the household.
For example, they’ll claim somebody is holding hostages at gunpoint. This often prompts a strong police response – in the best case, leaving the victim scared and mentally shocked. And in the worst case, getting someone killed.
Many swatting incidents have ended in tragedy. In 2017, an innocent man was killed by a police officer in a confusing situation where responding teams were led to believe that he was armed and dangerous. To make matters worse, the man wasn’t even the intended target.
The attacker had gotten into an argument over an online video game, and the intended victim provided him with a fake address, which the attacker accepted at face value. Despite the fact that the attacker eventually got jailed for 20 years over the act, a family was left without a father.
Legislation Is Changing
Laws have been changing recently, mostly in response to serious incidents like the one above. Many governments have started to realize that people are toying with their security forces and using them for their own ‘pranks’, often without stopping to think of the potential consequences. worse, in some cases, actually expecting those consequences.
Misuse of emergency services is already punishable in many places, but laws are now changing to make it a more serious offense when it’s done with the intended purpose of harming others. It may take some time for this to become commonplace, but many have agreed that it’s the right step forward in a disturbing situation like this.
Using Residential Proxy Providers to Protect Yourself
There are various things that the average person could do to stay protected. First of all, you have to protect your identity online, especially if you expect to get into situations where you might aggravate someone.
Unfortunately, this now includes something seemingly innocent, like playing an online game.
To protect your identity online, use residential proxy providers. Residential proxies ensure anonymity by changing your IP address. In turn, your home address and other info won’t be compromised. Check this out for an example of a company that has seen a lot of business from people trying to stay concealed and ensure their cybersecurity.
You should also take extra steps, such as creating stronger passwords and changing them regularly. Take some time to educate yourself on the methods people commonly use to uncover the identities of people on the internet and pay close attention to your own actions in this regard.
Learning a thing or two about digital fingerprinting is a good idea if you want to stay under the radar as much as possible.
Don’t be quick to trust strangers with private data. Especially, people, you’ve randomly met in an online game. That guy who seems totally cool and approachable right now might do a 180-degree turn and become completely unpredictable if he feels like you’ve slighted him in some way. And it all goes downhill from there.
Do You Really Need so Many Smart Devices?
It’s a good idea to take a look at the digital setup of your home. Smart devices can occasionally be hijacked, giving attackers even more leverage in a swatting raid.
Actually, smart devices have been the subject of some extra attention amidst the rise of swatting attacks after it came out that attackers would occasionally hijack poorly secured ones to watch the ‘action’ from up close.
This can also give them an extra advantage during the attack as they can relay additional facts to responding teams during the call and tip the odds even more towards someone getting shot.
Swatters have been getting away with what they’re doing for too long now, and it’s good to see that they’re finally starting to receive the negative recognition that they deserve.
But the important point is, take a good look around your home and think hard about whether you actually need to have your entire life wired up to the internet like that. Many smart devices are less secure than you would expect, especially cheap, single-purpose ones.
The Importance of Protecting Your Online Identity
You should always be careful about what you’re saying online and to whom. Just like you wouldn’t start randomly berating someone in real life because you don’t know who they are and what they might be capable of, you should keep offensive comments to yourself when talking to people online.
Don’t assume that you’re anonymous just because you’re behind your computer. We live in an age where this is rapidly becoming irrelevant.
It’s sad that we have to think about the internet this way nowadays. After all, it was supposed to bring everyone closer together, remove all barriers of communication, and help people become more open.
Instead, in recent years it’s shown many people that they are putting too much trust into online strangers and has prompted many to bunker down and reveal as little as possible about themselves. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you will be an exception.
You don’t need to be anyone special to draw the attention of a malicious actor. And once you’re in their crosshairs, it can be surprisingly difficult to get out.