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In the field of information security, swatting is an attempt to trick an emergency service (such as a 911 operator) to dispatch an emergency response team. The name is derived from SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), one type of such team.


History and current status

Swatting has its origins in prank calls to emergency services. Increasing sophistication of the techniques employed and the objectives, notably attempts to direct response units of particular types, and in particular attempts to cause SWAT teams to be dispatched to particular locations, spawned the term swatting. The term may have been coined by the FBI, which investigates these activities in the United States or US-related.

Matthew Weigman pled guilty to charges of conspiracy including attempting to retaliate against a witness.[1] He was sentenced to over 11 years in federal prison.[2]


Caller ID spoofing, social engineering, prank call and phone phreaking techniques may be combined. 911 systems (including telephony and human operators) have been tricked by calls placed from cities hundreds of miles away.

Two examples: using a service that permits people to call using a spoofed caller-id, the prankster uses the phone number of the victim, calls the police and pretends there is a hostage situation. Other possibility; prankster signs up for internet-based phone VOIP service in the victim's area code, signs on to the website of the VOIP provider, and registers the victim's address as theirs for 911, then calls 911 and again, misinforms the police that there is a hostage situation.

See also


  1. ^ Matthew Weigman Guilty Plea Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, 29 January 2009, retrieved 10 July 2009
  2. ^ Blind Hacker Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison, Kevin Poulsen, Wired News, 29 June 2009, retrieved 10 July 2009

External links

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