Patterico's Pontifications

3/15/2013

Security Journalist Is SWATted

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:57 pm

Brian Krebs writes about security and hackers. Yesterday, some hackers did a denial of service attack on his Web site. He was getting ready for some guests when things got rapidly more serious:

Vacuuming the rug near the front door, I noticed that some clear plastic tape I’d used to secure an extension cord for some outdoor lights was still straddling the threshold of the front door.

When I opened the door to peel the rest of the tape off, I heard someone yell, “Don’t move! Put your hands in the air.” Glancing up from my squat, I saw a Fairfax County Police officer leaning over the trunk of a squad car, both arms extended and pointing a handgun at me. As I very slowly turned my head to the left, I observed about a half-dozen other squad cars, lights flashing, and more officers pointing firearms in my direction, including a shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle. I was instructed to face the house, back down my front steps and walk backwards into the adjoining parking area, after which point I was handcuffed and walked up to the top of the street.

I informed the responding officers that this was a hoax, and that I’d even warned them in advance of this possibility. In August 2012, I filed a report with Fairfax County Police after receiving non-specific threats. The threats came directly after I wrote about a service called absoboot.com (now at booter.tw), which is a service that can be hired to knock Web sites offline.

That description sounds . . . very familiar. I don’t think the same people are involved, of course, but Krebs’s account of his experience hits home with me.

Ars Technica says:

Krebs has achieved a decidedly more grim distinction. On Thursday, he became one of the first journalists to be on the receiving end of a vicious hoax that prompted a raid on his Northern Virginia home by a swarm of heavily armed police officers. The tactic, known as “swatting,” has long been a favorite of depraved hackers.

Perhaps “one of” the first, but not the first. Even if you don’t consider me a journalist — or Aaron Walker or Mike Stack to be journalists — Erick Erickson is clearly a journalist. Why, even people who turn up their noses at Mere Bloggers have to be impressed by someone who’s on TV all the time.

Krebs wants the feds working on this:

The local police departments of the United States are ill-equipped to do much to stop these sorts of attacks. I would like to see federal recognition of a task force or some kind of concerted response to these potentially deadly pranks. Hopefully, authorities can drive the message home that perpetrating these hoaxes on another will bring severe penalties. Who knows: Perhaps some of the data uncovered in this blog post and in future posts here will result in the legal SWATing of those responsible.

My advice, Mr. Krebs: don’t put too much stock in the feds, unless you’re in Dallas, where they have a track record of solving such crimes. Here in California, I think I would have been better off with the locals, since Orange County Sheriffs have solved a similar crime, and so has LAPD, while the FBI doesn’t seem to care much about my case. I don’t know how things are in Virginia, but I am saying: don’t be too quick to assume the feds are always more knowledgeable and/or diligent.

43 Responses to “Security Journalist Is SWATted”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. FBI = ____ Bunch of Idiots

    And none of my encounters with them has contradicted that. Most overrated LEO in the world.

    SPQR (768505)

  3. They do say that the ATF was formed to make the FBI look good. Hard to argue with that.

    Gazzer (a6b05e)

  4. SPQR, mebbe the FBI is the most overated law enforcement agency in the US. But I challenge you, try to work with the CIA.

    Man, I wanted to hit those guys. Just beat them down. You know, I can watch CNN too, m**********r.

    Useless.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  5. DAMN!!! I hope he didn’t have any DIANE FEINSTEENBURGTONE unapproved WEAPONOLOGY, with which to protect himself. I think BOBBY KNIGHT discussed the FEINSTEIN DOCTRINE. “BEND OVER, and ENJOY”

    Gus (694db4)

  6. What this GREAT NATION really needs, is a new and improved EXTRA law enforcement Agency. We could call it…..
    HOMOLAND SECURITY!!!!
    And maybe Janet/Gina/Janet Reno/Napolitano/McCarthy could be SARGE in CHARGE?? What could go wrong?????

    Gus (694db4)

  7. Those of you on the receiving end need to stop calling them a “vicious hoax”; the implication is “it’s just a bunch of kids goofing around” with that phrasing.

    At the very least they’re an intentionally false police report, intentionally false 911 call.

    mer (2d74b6)

  8. the dallas fbi busted their ass to solve this type of crime, so it’s not like the fbi as a whole is like the bad draw pat got in cali.

    imo, those who failed to take this seriously are a huge part of the copycat problem.

    dustin (4fce73)

  9. 2. SPQR- Good call. They will perpetrate any myth needed in order to screw up your life.

    mg (31009b)

  10. The tactic, known as “swatting,” has long been a favorite of depraved hackers.

    WtF does this have to do with HACKERS?

    $@%^$@&@&%#&^^%#&&^ !!!

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces (98ae1f)

  11. I smacked ‘em down a bit for you, btw:

    Brian Krebs may be first journalist to suffer vicious hack known as swatting.

    I realize you guys don’t take bloggers seriously, but… they’re journalists, too.

    And a lot of the times they’re doing a better job than the ones who call themselves “professionals” (not a smack on YOU guys, but on pro journalists in general, mind you…

    So I can state that Patterico, an LA prosecuting attorney, can claim he got SWATted long before your guy.

    They aren’t dealing with “hackers”, per se (only in the crudest sense are they “hackers”), but with political terrorists. This is a summary of what Patterico and some of his associates have dealt with:
    http://patterico.com/2012/05/25/convicted-bomber-brett-kimberlin-neal-rauhauser-ron-brynaert-and-their-campaign-of-political-terrorism/

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces (98ae1f)

  12. FBI, CIA, ATF. Guys, this alphabet soup was created specifically to distract everyone from the REAL Intel agency… the NSA… Even today, no one tends to mention the NSA when it comes to any kind of LEO/Intel actions. Hell, it took something like 40 years for people to even learn the letters of their name. I know the NSA doesn’t tend to be field agents (or isn’t supposed to be… WHO knows, really?) but it says a lot that no one even thinks of them when the subject of intel agencies comes up.

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces (98ae1f)

  13. Thankfully, Krebs wasn’t holding a lethal breakfast pastry when he opened his front door on that fateful day…

    WarEagle82 (2b7355)

  14. Fairfax had rather ought to get the memo out.
    The officer that expressed ignorance of this terror tactic, one that is directed at him, his agency and his colleagues as well as any principal target, and should have been expressly warned.

    It’s hardly new, and the Fairfax PD was used in similar fashion earlier this year on at least one call, and who knows how many others.

    Fairfax has also had some “accidents” in raids that have been lethal. If there was any excuse for ignorance before, there’s none now.

    Redflagging spoofs is possible in real time, and the system can flag addresses. I hope this case is high profile enough to make that happen.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  15. extra “and” in that first sentence, poor editing; my apologies.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  16. It is greatly concerning to me when we see these SWATting activities going on. I greatly sympathize with you and your family for having to endure such an event. Moreover, I admire your courage in disallowing such as this from intimidating you to shrink from expressing your First Amendment rights, Patterico.

    Unfortunately, the increased political polarization we have been experiencing in recent years, and the inflammatory behavior therefrom, instigates this kind of extreme behavior from unstable individuals.

    In fact, there is plenty of flaming which occurs on this your own blog, Patterico, as I myself have been the recipient of same. It is quite one thing to be strongly in disagreement over some political issue or behavior, then to proceed in debate, but quite another when such disagreement produces a raft of personal attacks: This constitutes flaming, which should, in my view, be avoided.

    Perry (e84894)

  17. You at just taking th high road, above the fray, bridging gaps, and building bridges, right?

    JD (4bb5d1)

  18. ‘Get in their faces, hit them twice as hard,’ remind me who said that.

    narciso (3fec35)

  19. or taking guns, real ones, not chewed pop tarts, to a knife fight.

    just make sure they aren’t on DiFi’s list

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  20. Perry @ 16,

    Unfortunately, the increased political polarization we have been experiencing in recent years, and the inflammatory behavior therefrom, instigates this kind of extreme behavior from unstable individuals.

    In fact, there is plenty of flaming which occurs on this your own blog, Patterico, as I myself have been the recipient of same. It is quite one thing to be strongly in disagreement over some political issue or behavior, then to proceed in debate, but quite another when such disagreement produces a raft of personal attacks: This constitutes flaming, which should, in my view, be avoided.

    You should be utterly ashamed of yourself, Perry! A grown man passive-aggressively shifting the culpability and blame for those participating in CRIMINAL activities. How on earth you rationalize political argument/debate/personal attack into justifying or explaining why someone would SWAT another is closely akin to the ‘she was wearing a short skirt thus was begging to be raped’ sort of mentality that neanderthals and spineless twits ascribe to.

    How about we let adults be adults and assume full and complete responsibility for their own actions – whether good or evil? I can personally handle that. How about you?

    Pre-emptive strike: don’t you dare come pussying back here tsk-tsking me about how I’m “flaming” and attacking you personally. I am, so take it like the grown man you claim to be.

    Dana (292dcf)

  21. Good point, Dana. Perry was just doing what DiFi tried to pathetically to do at the Senate hearing – blame the law abiding for the acts of criminals.

    SPQR (768505)

  22. Unfortunately, the increased political polarization we have been experiencing in recent years, and the inflammatory behavior therefrom, instigates this kind of extreme behavior from unstable individuals.

    Well then, that settles it: Patterico better shut this blog down immediately! It’s *HIS* fault for allowing political discourse from opinionated, strong-willed individuals who take their views seriously and see themselves as right because maybe one of them is unstable and may resort to CRIMINAL activity because of Patterico’s strong belief and support of 1st Amendment. Quelle Horror!

    Thank God you weren’t facing Nazis in WWII, Perry. You would have been sitting in the corner with your eyes closed and ears plugged to the horrors around you, lest you speak up and push back against evil.

    (Yeah, I went Godwin there. Tough shit).

    Dana (292dcf)

  23. “…I would like to see federal recognition of a task force…”

    The DoJ will get right on that as soon as they figure out what member of the VRWC is responsible for Fast&Furious.

    SPQR….the only adult in the room at that Senate Cmte hearing was Sen. Cruz. He was asking inconvenient questions of the children at the Big Table.

    And, Periwinkle, let us know when you open your door to a street full of cops pointing guns at you.
    Until then, quit complaining that someone on the ‘net has treated you the way you treat others in your comments here and elsewhere.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  24. 20- Flying Jimmy Choo’s to follow!

    askeptic (2bb434)

  25. HELP HELP I’m BEING INSTIGATED!

    Peasants on a mudpile (b0e533)

  26. I had no choice but to put the police, bystanders, other household residents and my principal target at grave risk from a hoaxed report of deadly crime in progress requiring emergency response. He said I wasn’t nice.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  27. For Perry, who shows symptoms of a semantic pragmatic disorder, that’s sarcasm.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  28. Dana – Brava! Isn’t it funny/ironic that the Perry’s of the world claim their faux moral high ground while chanting civility, a while being dishonest d-bags? It is more important for them to preach about civility, than to be honest.

    JD (4bb5d1)

  29. Dana @ 20:

    You should be utterly ashamed of yourself, Perry! A grown man passive-aggressively shifting the culpability and blame for those participating in CRIMINAL activities. How on earth you rationalize political argument/debate/personal attack into justifying or explaining why someone would SWAT another is closely akin to the ‘she was wearing a short skirt thus was begging to be raped’ sort of mentality that neanderthals and spineless twits ascribe to.

    You’ve obviously mischaracterized my statement in 20., so now go back and read it in its entirety.

    Perry (e84894)

  30. “Flaming” instigates crime, you said, forgetting it’s the criminal who instigates a crime.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  31. Perry said:

    Unfortunately, the increased political polarization we have been experiencing in recent years, and the inflammatory behavior therefrom, instigates this kind of extreme behavior from unstable individuals.

    Political polarization causes mentally unstable individuals to engage in extreme behavior? Please show me where you got that, because mental health professionals say personality disorders that result in extreme behaviors come from childhood experiences and/or genetic predisposition.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  32. 30- We need a Prenatal DNA test for that – after all, they’re looking to test for everything else.
    Might as well test for the “incivility” gene too.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  33. Prenatal testing for trolls?

    The ethical ramifications stagger.

    Pious Agnostic (20c167)

  34. 32- A job for John Anderton?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  35. “the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar,” said Loughner.

    Clearly any attempt at punctuation is inflammatory.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  36. ‘Wait what’s crazy about that’ although Dupnik kept him out of jail, thanks to connections.

    narciso (3fec35)

  37. Perry @ 29,

    You’ve obviously mischaracterized my statement in 20., so now go back and read it in its entirety.

    No, I haven’t. And no, I won’t.

    Dana (292dcf)

  38. Perry – is being dishonest civil?

    JD (b63a52)

  39. No, I haven’t. And no, I won’t.

    Do not dare duck, Perry.

    JD (b63a52)

  40. WtF does this have to do with HACKERS?

    Does caller ID spoofing fall under the term hacking?

    Mattsky (7c21d0)

  41. Swatting should be illegal. Not only is it a danger to all those involved it’s also a massive waste of tax payer money. I hope they find the person who put the call through and serve him some old school justice.

    Cal (52a24d)

  42. Cal @40:
    “should be illegal”? I would have thought that it already falls under at least filing a false police report and because of the use of phone lines (probably crossing state lines too) at least one or more Federal laws.

    mer (2d74b6)

  43. It’s illegal.

    SarahW (b0e533)


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