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Man Hacks 911 System, Sends SWAT on Bogus Raid 754

Posted by Zonk
from the word-dumb-doesn't-cover-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Orange County Register reports that a 19 year old from Washington state broke into the Orange County California 911 emergency system. He randomly selected the name and address of a Lake Forest, California couple and electronically transferred false information into the 911 system. The Orange County California Sheriff's Department's Special Weapons and Tactics Team was immediately sent to the home of a couple with two sleeping toddlers. The SWAT team handcuffed the husband and wife before deciding it was a prank. Says the article, 'Other law enforcement agencies have seen similar breaches into their 911 systems as part of a trend picked up by computer hackers in the nation called "SWATting"'"
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Man Hacks 911 System, Sends SWAT on Bogus Raid

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  • Stupid & dangerous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:36PM (#21014899)
    If the guy that was targeted thought someone was breaking in and tried to defend himself, he would probably have been killed... nice prank :(
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I can see it now, some geek hacks the new pentagon war room and hey presto some idiot goes and invades iran
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by msimm (580077)
      Good thing they typically yell police. But it's still a stupid prank.
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:43PM (#21015017)
        Burglars, murderers, and rapists can yell "Police!" too.
        • by theguru (70699) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:48PM (#21015107)
          But.. but.. that would be illegal.
        • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:51PM (#21015171) Journal
          If 10 rapists in riot gear with automatic weapons are running at me yelling, "Police!" I'm fucked whether I drop the gun or not.

          It's usually not all that difficult to tell the difference between a police raid and a home invasion. The cops will not even attempt to be subtle once they start moving in.
          • by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:39PM (#21015927) Homepage
            It's usually not all that difficult to tell the difference between a police raid and a home invasion.

            Yeah! Well, it took me a while, but I've gotten to the point where I don't even have to wake up to tell the difference!

            Just last week I woke up to find my already splintered and duct-taped door kicked in yet again, and I'd slept right through it! I'm pretty it was the police based on what they took and what they didn't take.

            See, I've gotten to the point where I keep two packages handy whenever I go to bed: one with ID, a personal statement, some donuts, coffee, milk, etc., and the other with a few valuables and convincing amount of cash I round up before I go to bed. I give the appropriate one to whoever breaks in that night. I used to mess up *all* the time -- and while, sure, the thugs appreciated the donuts, they'd always want the valuables, too, even though they'd get nicer about it if the donuts were good. And you could see the police really had their feelings hurt when they thought I was trying to buy them off, and nobody wants that.

            But I've gotten it right the last 15 times -- even last week, when I woke up in the morning to find out I'd slept through it all. The donuts were gone and the valuables were still there! I'm looking forward to the time when this will all be sorted out and I can just buy myself another door and stop spending all this money on donuts, duct tape, and miscellaneous valuables, but in the meanwhile, I'm glad I've adapted and learned to cope before doing anything really stupid like overreacting when someone breaks in.

          • by pla (258480) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:43PM (#21015983) Journal
            It's usually not all that difficult to tell the difference between a police raid and a home invasion.

            Sitting down to eat dinner when a swat team breaks down the door, yes. The police, however, favor pre-dawn raids. You presume that someone would have the same capacity to tell the difference in the 1.7 seconds between "sound asleep", "guys with guns yelling at me", and "fire off as many rounds at my attackers as possible".

            You also presume someone would care about the difference, rather than considering the police just as dangerous (if not more) than most actual criminals.
    • by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:55PM (#21015241)
      Apparently the owner heard a 'prowler' and went out armed with a kitchen knife. The kid's lucky no one was killed- he'd be looking at murder charges in addition to whatever fraud charges he's got now.
      • Manslaughter maybe, but not murder.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
          They're charging him with assault by proxy. If there had been a death, it could very well be murder depending on the statutes.

          Manslaughter is reserved for places where you didn't intend for there to be a death, and it would be hard to argue that you weren't intending someone to die when you send a van full of armed men to their house. The kid is lucky as hell; if someone had died, they'd have charged him with the absolute maximums.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by legirons (809082)
      "If the guy that was targeted thought someone was breaking in and tried to defend himself, he would probably have been killed"

      So he needs better weapons...

      If you can't kill all members of a SWAT team invading your property, then you need to rethink your strategy for defending yourself
  • by siyavash (677724) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:37PM (#21014917) Journal
    Don't these hackers THINK OF THE CHILDREN? ^^ ...I know, I know. :p
  • Forged CID (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jfroot (455025) <darmok@tanagra.ca> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:39PM (#21014937) Homepage
    "The purpose is to create a false 911 call that appears to be coming from the residence in question and prompt a SWAT response from local law enforcement agencies, Barnes said."

    It sounds to me that this was not really a systems penetration type of 'hack', rather the kid forged his Caller ID.

    • Re:Forged CID (Score:5, Informative)

      by 222 (551054) <stormseeker@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:46PM (#21015061) Homepage
      Hrmm. 911 uses ANI, not your garden variety CID. I'm not saying it's impossible to spoof, but WAAAAAY harder and typically involves something being mis configured at your telco. ANI is also used to handle billing for 1-800 numbers, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      While his hack could turn out to be something that simple, my understanding is that emergency response systems use the ANI identification information (Automatic Number Identification, the actual identification information that phone companies use for billing) rather than the Caller ID (easy to spoof, block, etc. and in general much less accurate than people give it credit for).

  • Proxy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kilo_foxtrot84 (1016017) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:40PM (#21014957)

    assault with an assault weapon by proxy
    I find this charge to be very interesting. Are there any sort of precedents for it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rob the Bold (788862)

      assault with an assault weapon by proxy

      I find this charge to be very interesting. Are there any sort of precedents for it?

      So if he got someone else to make the phony call to send SWAT to the wrong house, it would be "assault with an assault weapon by proxy by proxy"?

  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:40PM (#21014967) Homepage Journal

    I totally don't condone the "prankster" jerk's behavior in this incident, or anything similar.

    However, I have to say that a silver lining in this sort of incident is that it might help the more zealous members of law enforcement (ever more beefy, ever more armored, ever more anonymous, ever more hair-triggered) remember that there are innocent people out there who don't deserve a knee in the back, a taser in the ass, or a broken door. A citizen who is drunk at a restaurant, or who is loud at a rally does not equate to being dangerous or resisting.

    When you assume, it makes an ass of you and me. When a cop assumes, all too often he reaches for his sidearm.

  • by techpawn (969834) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:42PM (#21014997) Journal
    It's "hackers" like this who give "hackers" a bad name! Not saying that hacker is the most glorious title to have, but it's douche bags like this one who thinks it funny to hack for this reason that makes serious security people, white and black hat alike, pissed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:44PM (#21015031)
    I'm really naive about security, so I can't understand how these security breaches happen time and time again. If these systems were web based, or offering some kind of web or internet service which necessitated having open TCP ports I'd find this easier to understand. Why is it that ordinary office systems (and bespoke Command and Control Systems), and documents sitting on file servers behind corporate firewalls, with no direct connection to the outside world are always so vulnerable? Surely it's possible to run an internal network (ethernet or whatever) in such a way as to make it completely inaccessible from the outside world, while running an email and web gateway?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Surely it's possible to run an internal network (ethernet or whatever) in such a way as to make it completely inaccessible from the outside world, while running an email and web gateway?

      The problem is that you can get in through the web and email gateways. Any interface to the outside world has the potential to be hacked, especially when the interface is one that naturally lets things through (such as email or web sites). The hacker can now attack the server software directly or they can try and sneak something malicious through. If the email server lets a virus through, then there's plenty of ways that an attacker could control that computer and wreak havoc.

      That's also not counting on

  • Jerk.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by pablo_max (626328) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:47PM (#21015089)
    I can not begin to tell you what a pain in the ass this was. You can not imagine how hard it is to tell your boss you are late for work because you are currently under siege from your the swat team. Totally messed up my morning.
  • Jail time need (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moracity (925736) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:48PM (#21015115)
    If this kid doesn't get jail time, it's just time to do away with all of our laws. What's the point?

    The victimized family should bring a a civil suit and make sure they get a monetary judgement that docks his wages for years to come. If he gets away with it, we'll be hearing about him again.
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:54PM (#21015237)
    Man what a stupid prank to be pulling. As previous posters mentioned, he should have at least sent SWAT to a McDonalds or WalMart and not a private home. 10 years ago a SWAT team here in Boston made a felony entry into the wrong apartment and ended up roughing up an elderly priest named Accelynne Williams so badly that he ended up dying of a heart attack. If this SWAT team had injured or killed any of the people in the house they responded to, even if it was a similar case of just triggering a heart attack, this kid probably would have been charged with murder or manslaughter.
  • by moankey (142715) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:58PM (#21015289)
    Sounds like something out of a Phillip Dick story where nothing is seen as being wrong with the system even if the couple were killed. Acceptable losses or some other acronymed term, until one day one of the SWAT members realizes the prank is pulled on his own family only to realize its too late for him to warn them.
    At which point the cog in the machine becomes the hero in various hollywood ways and somehow joins forces with the prankster that has some far reaching political message wrapped around his pranks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:15PM (#21015577)
    For people who do this kind of stuff.

    Whitehat Grayhat Blackhat Asshat

    It may be the police's / politician's own fault for having the unprotected system and bla bla bla... But when they catch the guy who did it, 5+ years in the slammer I say. That's the kind of situation when you can take the Hacker Manifesto and wipe your ass with it.
  • by Kronos666 (555566) <saugerNO@SPAMzerofail.com> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:28PM (#21015789)
    http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071017/NEWS02/710170400 [goerie.com] Basically he used a system for the hearing impaired to relay a message... the operator then called the police. He also tried to do the same thing to someone else who was "cheating in an online game". You have to love these kids...
    • This shit happens with business all the time. You get a call from a TDD operator, basically the operator has some guy typing to them, generally on the Internet these days but it could be with a physical TDD device, and they relay everything to you. I've used it a few times to speak to a deaf friend prior to IM becoming big.

      At any rate, guy I know owns a computer store. So he gets a TDD call from someone overseas who just happens to need his no-name local shop to ship out a ton of high end hardware, next day
  • Not a minor (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:58PM (#21016213)
    It makes me smile that the asshole that made the call is 19 years old and just old enough not to be tried as a minor.

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