FBI Warning of New Dangers Surrounding Home Security Cameras

Have you ever heard of “swatting?” Swatting is when a hacker—typically, someone who likes to stir up chaos—calls 9-1-1 with a completely made-up emergency that requires law enforcement, like a SWAT team, to answer to.

The emergencies can be anything that requires a heavily armed strike force—whether it’s murder to a bomb about to go off. As you can imagine, this can cause a lot of chaos—which is exactly what the caller’s intent is: to stir things up for the public.

Swatting is super dangerous for everyone involved. Whoever is responding to the call is putting their safety at risk, since they’re going somewhere with completely unsuspecting residents. This can then put the community at risk, not to mention this is all going on as real emergencies are being ignored because of this fake one.

One of the most catastrophic swatting incidences occurred in 2017 when police mistakenly shot and killed a man in Kansas. Most of the time, law enforcement is able to determine an occurrence of swatting and close the case, but all calls must be taken seriously initially.

Recently, swatting has gotten even more dangerous by adding a new layer of a hazard: Callers are now breaking into home security cameras connected to the Internet to spy on the occurrence in real time. Sometimes, they’re even able to hack into the speaker of the camera to shout aggressive comments to stir things up even more.

Don’t worry—it’s not TOO common. But, it is still something that occurs enough where it can be terribly scary and dangerous if it happens to you, which is especially common if your credentials are easily located or not secure enough.

The FBI is aware of many cases that are happening across the country, and warn that if you have a home security camera, like the Nest or Ring, which are the most popular methods for spying on a swatting call, there are ways you can protect yourself.

Check out this NBC News exclusive with investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen, who shares what you can do. In addition, learn more about swatting, how hackers are actually able to watch the occurrence through a home security camera, how to know if you’ve been part of a data breach, and even see live footage of several swatting attempts.

Have you ever heard of swatting before? Have you ever seen it done in real life? What steps are you taking to protect yourself from a crime like this?