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FBI issues PSA about offenders targeting smart home devices for 'swatting' incidents

Posted at 1:00 PM, Dec 31, 2020

The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a public service announcement Tuesday warning users of smart home devices of being hacked for "swatting" incidents.

In the PSA, the FBI asked users to use "complex and unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication" to protect against the attacks after they were notified of hackers using stolen email passwords to access them.

"Offenders have been using victims’ smart devices, including video and audio capable home surveillance devices, to carry out swatting attacks," the PSA read. "To gain access to smart devices, offenders are likely taking advantage of customers who re-use their email passwords for their smart devices. The offenders use stolen email passwords to log into the smart device and hijack features, including the live-stream camera and device speakers."

According to the FBI, swatting is when a hoax call is made to 911 to report an immediate threat to human life that leads to a response from law enforcement and the S.W.A.T. team.

The FBI said these incidents are motivated by revenge or a prank.

"They then call emergency services to report a crime at the victims’ residence," the PSA stated. "As law enforcement responds to the residence, the offender watches the live stream footage and engages with the responding police through the camera and speakers. In some cases, the offender also live streams the incident on shared online community platforms."

The FBI also advised users not to duplicate passwords between different online accounts to protect themselves better.