Hacked Security Cameras Used to Livestream Swatting Incidents

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One of the more ubiquitous trends to emerge in just the past five years is the proliferation of security cameras for the home. These compact products give homeowners a new level of security that was previously hard to achieve without an expensive external camera setup. But, like any modern product connected to the Internet, they can be hacked, and some of the incidents involving that are nothing if not emblematic tales of our times.

white surveillance camera hanging on wall
A white surveillance camera hanging on the wall. Photo by Alan J. Hendry

Such as today’s story where hackers used homeowners’ hacked Ring security cameras to watch as the house was swatted by police. For those of you who may not know what swatting is, it is the act of calling the authorities to a residence to address typically very serious though false incidents such as those involving domestic violence or even hostage situations. Authorities often respond in force and with weapons drawn. Watching the drama unfold via live camera feed is believed to be the primary incentive behind such “swatting” incidents although it has also been used for revenge and as a simple “prank.” Needless to say, such false reports are taken seriously, and posting something fake like this is similarly taken pretty seriously when it comes to holding people accountable.

PetaPixel reports that two such hackers, Kya Christian Nelson, from Racine, Wisconsin, and James Thomas Andrew McCarty from Charlotte, North Carolina, were recently convicted of accessing Ring owners’ Yahoo email accounts to gather information on them before placing fake emergency calls to authorities . They would then live stream the events as they unfolded and, in one instance, even used the Ring camera microphone to taunt responding authorities. What makes this problem all the more vexing for authorities is that the perpetrators were able to do this kind of thing to people all over the United States which makes it much, much more than a simple prank phone call.

How can owners prevent something like this from happening to one of their devices? It is actually quite simple according to the authorities cited in the PetaPixel article: You can enable two-factor authentication and practice good “cyber” security protocols such as strong passwords and regular account maintenance.

Do you use products like Amazon Ring? Are you ever concerned about hacking? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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[PetaPixel]

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