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.