Police Militarization meets Hacker Culture: Swatting

Police Militarization meets Hacker Culture: Swatting

3… 2… 1… go! Police! Search warrant! Police! I’m right… left. I got left. (shouting) Gimme two, gimme two Good raid (shouting) All clear up here, clear left – (shouting) Clear small, we’re coming out
– Move, move, move As you can see it’s pretty intense. You would not wanna be on the opposite side of that door when these guys were coming through. Okay, what are your demands? Police are trained to respond to every call with urgency but when the caller’s lying, like in the 9-1-1 recording we just heard, law enforcement becomes a pawn in a dangerous and expensive hoax “Swatting” relies on simple and widely available technology to disguise a caller’s identity Disposable cell phones, internet call services, and even number disguising apps make it increasingly difficult for police to track down these pranksters Somerset is one of the wealthiest counties in the US It has great schools, a low crime rate, and like a growing number of police forces through the country, a souped-up special weapons and tactics force, or SWAT team, just in case Beginning with the War on Drugs and after national tragedies like Columbine and 9/11, The US has seen a surge in the militarization and funding of SWAT teams, including counties large and small Over the last decade, the Department of Homeland Security alone has given away 35 billion dollars in grants to state and local police We went to spend the day with the Somerset County SWAT team at their emergency services training academy to see where that money was going – Sergeant: (shouting) For the headshot, you’re looking for eyes and nose, that’s your target areas Ciempola: We apply for every grant. If there’s a grant and we can get money for it, we’ll apply for it So, we apply for Homeland Security money, we’ll show you the Lenco BEAR, our armored assault rescue vehicle, infared cameras, and pole cameras and shields and stuff like that, we get a lot of that with grant money Ciempola: The BEAR we use on every call out
Gold: Really?
Ciempola: The BEAR, yes, I think it stands for Ballistic Engineering Assault Rescue vehicle, Lenco company up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts designs it There is it right there Gold: Damn
Ciempola: That’s roughly a $400,000 machine we never would have been able to make the purchase if we didn’t apply for Homeland Security money I think, in the area of the high 50s is one cost and again it was purchased through grant money Gold: What do we use this for? Is this sort of, to uh- you know, for a bomb situation, for a hazard situation? Ciempola: It could be for, right, it could be there’s a threat of a bomb, could be for exposure to chemicals, or some sort of gas that could hurt us and it could be just because somebody may want to shoot at us and we absolutely know they want to shoot at us, so we can send this in and it could deal with the situation and we don’t expose our officers to undue risk Twenty years ago, we were running around with RadioShack walkie talkies because that’s all we could afford There was no money for this type of operation around here Gold: You say you just it last year, have you had to use it for any intense situations yet or no? Ciempola: Not really, not yet, yeah yeah nothing big (voice off camera) Nothing major. Gold, narrating: Aside from Homeland Security grants that encourage local police departments to buy military-grade hardware for their own SWAT units, the US goverment has for years given away this technology for free to combat the War on Drugs and domestic terrorism Gold to Ciempola: I’m amazed that the kits here, man, they are no joke, like they’re serious stuff Gold, narrating: A US Department of Defense program often called the Pentagon Pipeline has redistributed billions of dollars worth of surplus military gear over the last two decades to local police forces much of it repurposed from wars overseas Sergeant, shouting: Alright, so the next course of fire is going to be two in the upper chest then one in the head two in the upper chest, one in the head Gold: We’ve seen a lot of heavily armed members of the SWAT team you can they are kitted out and they look like they’re ready for war So, it’s pretty reassuring if you’re going to be involved in violent confrontation, I’m sure, in the surrounding area, but it doesn’t sound like there are too many violent confrontations in Somerset County SWAT teams were originally formed to handle violent civil unrest, shootouts, and hostage rescues (shouting) Let me see your hands!
Don’t move! (screaming) But with increased access to power military equipment, the US has seen a dramatic rise in the use of these tactics for low-risk warrants and nonviolent drug raids as well (crying) Mommy, mommy It’s estimated the number of raids conducted by SWAT teams has gone from 3,000 a year in the 1980s to over 50,000 raids a year today (shouting) Police, search warrant! We can’t be sure as most states don’t even disclose the frequency with which they deploy these forces (shouting) Don’t move, don’t move! (gunshots) This lack of transparency is currently under investigation by the ACLU, which is trying to find out how often police use war tactics and weaponry in American neighborhoods and to what extend federal funding is incentivizing this trend All a “swatter” needs is a way to hide their phone number, a victim’s address, and a crazy story to tell the police We’re at NYU school of Computer Science and Engineering to find out just how easy that is Justin Cappos is a professor of computer science and engineering at NYU and an expert in cyber security So we’ve got 12 year-olds that are basically pulling off this swatting maneuver How easy is it to do this? In terms of technical knowledge, there isn’t a substantial amount of information someone needs to have they just sort of need to stumble to the right parts of the internet, dark sides of the internet and get the rights sorts of tools and then they can do this rather easily Is there a type in the hacking community that people sort of point out as the cliched person that does this sort of swatting thing? Yes, a lot of times it’s people who are rather young who maybe don’t have the same sort of mental and emotional development that many of us get later in life and so they kind of don’t know the lines between right and wrong quite as well, so it’s often we in the hacker community term “script kiddies” that do this kind of stuff so they know only a few things, they know a few sites they’ve been to, and they’ve kind of learned, hey this is a fun little thing I can try to do and they’re kind of unaware of the consequences of sending, you know, 30 or so heavily armed police officers to someone’s house to break down the door In Los Angeles, it’s known as “swatting” and it’s become an alarming trend Swatting pranks have been used on some of the biggest names in Hollywood Gold, narrating: Swatting began to attract national media attention when celebrities became victims Newscaster: There is breaking news happening at the Kardashian house Another newscaster: … and it’s happening more and more Last week, Rihanna and Sean Combs were targeted before them, Tom Cruise, Charlie Sheen, and Miley Cyrus all fake incidents prompting massive responses Gold: Aside from sending out a bunch of well-armed into innocent people’s homes, swatting can cost tens of thousands of dollars a fact not lost on California State Senator Ted Lieu, a victim of swatting himself I was at a meet at Orange County and I got a call in my cell phone from a police officer in Torrance who said, you know, “is this Ted Lieu?” and I said “yes” and he said, “where are you?” and I said, “I’m in Orange County” and he goes “okay, so you didn’t just kill your wife in your home?” and I said “no I did not” and he said “well we got a call that you did and we’re sending multiple police cars to your home right now” I hung up and tried calling my wife letting her know that this was happening and then I couldn’t reach her, but by that time, the police force had already showed up and there were people with rifles going through our home, you had fire trucks, you have paramedics, it was a very large response but she also knew I was carrying a bill on swatting so I think part of her was thinking I wonder if this is related to that and someone decided to, you know, swat our house Gold: Celebrity swatting occurred with such frequency in California that the LAPD stopped reporting these incidents for fear of copycats Senator Lieu introduced legislation this year making swatters liable for the full cost of fake SWAT team routes which can amount to tens of thousands of dollars Lieu: The reason swatting calls result in massive police responses is because the 9-1-1 operator often cannot tell it’s real or fake and they have to assume it’s real Swatting is dangerous in a number of ways, first of all it drains law enforcement and firefighter resources and so they’re responding to one swatting caller maybe more than one that means it can’t be responding to real emergencies It’s also dangerous because the actual incident is very tense for people who respond they’re under an impression people are dying at that home or whatever their place is and imagine if it’s dark at night and they all show up with their guns drawn, you could see a miscommunication result in death or injury very easily Gold: Despite the national attention, celebrities are not the only victims of swatting Far more often, it’s regular families So we’re in Long Beach, Long Island right now, where in April, Jose Castillo and his family were swatted after Jose’s little brother beat someone in a Call of Duty video game and he prank called the police Now, half the town’s police force, SWAT team, helicopter, medical personnel all showed up at Jose’s doorstep because they were told that his little brother killed Jose and his mother We’re going to go talk to Jose and see how it feels on the other side of swatting This is a high stakes, high danger prank Celebrity homes have been hit by it and now some innocent victims in the news in suburban New York inside their own home My little brother was playing his XBOX 360 or whichever it was he was using he told me there was someone on the other side of the microphone, you know, in a party chat telling him that he was going to call the police, he’s going to SWAT him and Gold: He used the term swatting? Castillo: Yeah, he used the term swatting, he was like, I’m gonna SWAT you and my little brother was like, “Jose, someone is telling me he’s going to SWAT me” and I told him, “get off the game” Gold: Jose went out and returned a couple of hours later to find his street closed off and his house surrounded by police and emergency responders So what were you seeing, you were seeing just like police all in this area?
Castillo: Yeah, I thought it was a fire or something, you know, maybe my neighbor’s house and then I see my mom getting carried away by two police officers I just saw, I approached the first officer that led me through the firmer and I asked him, “what is going on?” he told me, “someone inside of the red house shot and killed his mother and brother” I’m like, “what are you talking about?”, you know, I’m like “what are you talking about, how can anybody be dead in the house, there’s only 3 people who live there and it’s me, my mom, and my little brother and I’m right here and she’s right over there” so I’m sitting there like, “can I speak to your supervisor or something, can I speak to someone that could like listen to me right now?” and then, you know So at this point you’re talking to the officers, you’re trying to figure out what’s happening, at what point do you kind, does it kind of click in your head that maybe this is related to that threat you got earlier? Once I saw the SWAT team come in, actually getting ready, putting on all their uniforms, and at this point my little brother’s still inside the house and he doesn’t know what’s going on and I kept telling the police, “look I seen this in news, this is a joke” and you know
Gold: Nothing? And no matter what they can’t stop the process, like I don’t understand? Yeah, what they told us is they have to make sure that there’s nothing going on so they actually had to go in and I wish they would have listened to us a little more, but you know, they have to do what they have to do Do you think your little brother’s going to play Call of Duty again after this? No, never (laughs) (laughs) He’s done Online video games are just one of the means by which swatters can easily get personal information used to prank their victims Once obtained, it’s even easier to place calls anonymously What about in terms of law enforcement actually catching the people that are doing this? You see every now and then, you know, a 16 year-old will get busted here or a 15 year-old there They’re having a really hard time catching these people, huh? They do have a hard time catching people in general with it because people who have been doing this now they sort of know, well, the way we need to do it is we need to disguise where this call’s coming from The hacker economy is very much that, an economy, and so there are people there who are willing to sell kind of pre-built malware and pre-built boxes that do certain malicious things that really you only have to click a box or you download software and click a button and it’s ready to go And this is just sort of actually a small front in this battle between good hackers, bad hackers, law enforcement that just doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to stop It’s very difficult to especially for the good guys, because if you’re doing defense you have to kind of have to protect everything and you have to protect it against sort of all possible ways somebody can get in If you’re an attacker, then you just have to find one thing that they’ve kind of forgotten about or maybe multiple things and find a way to chain them together into what you want to do Despite the abundant resources for tactical gear, the real problem facing law enforcement is that most departments don’t have experts trained in cybersecurity to help police analyze and track down fraudulent 9-1-1 calls There’s a potential now for increase in false reports and I’m sure every time you guys get these calls you’re wired up, you’re good to go, do you think if there’s a lot of these, is it gonna change how you guys respond to certain calls? I think our response protocol is gonna have to be tightened up, tweaked a little bit, I’m hoping maybe legislation on either the state or national level and focusing on this from an investigative and prosecutorial standpoint will help to abate it and cause it to stop, but if it doesn’t, yeah, we’re certainly gonna have to look at the way we respond, the way we dispatch our team, maybe a little closer analysis of the initial call when it comes in to make sure it’s a real call, they’re gonna have to really analyze that call and maybe put devices in place to say Is this a real job or is this a case of swatting, which I hope stops You know, you guys are like a machine, like we’ve seen the way you guys move, the way you fire, everyone here is trained top-notch some people might look at this and look at Somerset County and say is all of this necessary? I mean you guys have these robots and these tanks and whateverand like top notch kits and they might look at it and say do we really need this in suburban New Jersey, how would you address those people? I would ask somebody that suffered a loss because of not having this service and I would focus on them and ask them to answer that question I would say, well, SWAT team wasn’t available when you really needed or a police officer wasn’t available when you needed or an ambulance didn’t get there when you really needed and what happened and how does that make you feel? and if your child was in a school that was suddenly under attack by some random actors do you want them coming to help your kid or do you want no one to show up? That’s what I would say to them In an age where a teenager with a cellphone can incite chaos there was no doubt authorities need to re-examine their strategy in combating technology with brute force Who know what could happen if people start using these methods with more malicious intentions than just pranks

100 thoughts on “Police Militarization meets Hacker Culture: Swatting

  1. The real story is, THE POLICE ARE OUT OF FUCKING HAND!!! They've been militarized and we are turning in to a police state right beforw our fucking eyes and NO ONE is trying to stop this, even our P.O.S president is backing this police state future we are heading in to, time for a REVOLUTION💯💯💯

  2. When overreaction is the norm, everything causes the wrong reaction. Its funny how most other Western nation never had the Swating issues the US had. Its because most Western nations dont have fucked up police forces who think they are about to take part in a Die Hard movie any minute.

  3. If a Law Enforcement agency responds to a falsified call then they need to be held accountable. Police need to make sure what they do is legal.

  4. I went through training for defense of my home from armed attacks like this from armed attackers wearing armor when to shoot and where to shoot , How to shoot . The stand your ground law and the Castle doctrine are made for protection for home owners from any unlawful attack .

  5. Wow look at all those toys, I hope you don't see them coming your way. In the meant time they want your AR, but you can keep the musket! Police state to the MAX! Hey?

  6. You know what else increased since the 1980s?

    The number of criminals using body armor, the number of school shootings and other terrorist attacks, the number of bombs that domestic terrorists are able to obtain. The ease with which you can buy semi auto rifles on the black markets.

    Those increased.

    So of course so will the number of swat raids.

    Stop antagonising the people who are keeping you safe vice

  7. Lot's of conspiracy theorists think the militarization of police is some grand scheme for permanent martial law. The truth is that this is all for money. Politicians need to pay back people who get them in office so the politicians make policies that seem beneficial as a whole but are truly manifested to create business for the people they owe. It is very lucrative.

  8. HAHA LOL My favorite is the cop shooting with the MEDIC PATCH…. WTF oh well Geneva, not like Americans have rights anymore.

  9. "Swatting" LMFAO!
    This shows how ready police are to blindly interrupt your peaceful existence.
    A law to combat and give the prankster financial responsibility? Sure, I'm behind that but something else first.
    How about a law to charge officers for illegally entering somebody's home? There's already laws against what they call a home invasion, excuse me, an armed home invasion. Police rifles with fingers itching on the triggers have you, your wife, your kids, your neighbors and your pets in a GREAT deal of danger. Rifles THEY don't want us to have. Furthermore the damage done to your front door and whatever else is ok because it's done in the pursuit of justice. If they don't wanna be decent they can get of paying for any damages. The cops are becoming more criminal than the criminals.
    I respected and looked up to our law enforcement brothers and sisters. I just can't anymore. :'(


  11. The swat team should just learn martial arts and master it and if they are on a mission they should only use their bare hands and only wear a bulletproof vest

  12. I guess it should make him feel more safe or unsafe depending on his outlook that that many cops showed up so fast and ready

  13. 4:00 funding can't be that good if they have to adapt pre 2000s M4s with carry handle optic mounts. I get that it more than likely has a selective fire control, but a modern upper wouldn't change that in the least. There's never been an advantage to having a carry handle, in fact I'd guess that the upper is pretty worn to shit considering how long it's probably been in service

  14. "War Tactics and Firearms", obviously you've never been out gunned by a bad guy. I was up against 1 Suspect armed with Body armour, an Automatic Rifle w/ armour piercing bullets. I had a Pistol and a Shotgun. Most rifle rounds will easily penetrate a Kevlar vest. Luckily our SWAT team showed up with a BEAR and parked between them, me and what was left of my Patrol Car. 47 of the 53 rounds that hit my Car, went through both sides. None penetrated the Bear's exterior. If people were put on that end of things they wouldn't be whining at all.
    The organized Criminals have the money, the means and desire to get and use these weapons. Once was more than enough of a justification (as far as the 2 Adults, 1 Child, the 2 other Officers and myself) for these equipment and tactics to be deployed. The active shooter turned into a barricaded Suspect. After 15 hours and a lot of talking he finally gave up. No shots were fired after 4 minutes after SWAT arrived.

  15. Punching holes in paper is not training for a stressful situation. Run a mile, do 50 burpees, and use a shot timer. Add stress to training. You're going to be under stress if you have to use the weapon your training with. There is a big difference between an adrenaline dump because you're getting shot at and punching holes in paper.

  16. Why isn't there any kind of recon before they go in? Seems like they would discover contradictory information within seconds.

  17. These PUSSIES are going to be used for gun confiscation. They are all over the U.S.. In all small towns across the nation and are there for your protection. Lol. Why does a small town police force in America need military weapons. I thought it was for war. So who are the police at war with. A thin blue line my ass. Also I wish the police force would quit desecrating the American flag. The army, navy, marines and Air Force have there own flag. If the police departments want a flag create your own Damn flag so you can tell the American sheep you are a separate army. Wake Up America

  18. So it’s a great idea keep arming the police to the bones and why send 20 when you can send 100 cops to nothing at all…disarm American police if legislators don’t see this is one of the first steps Americans doing to show their disdain for how Leo handle things and when humanism need to be applied.

  19. Who
    Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The US Government and Its
    Police Forces


  20. Hahaha the irony: they used taxpayers' money to wage war in order to steal resources of foreign nations. And the surplus gear is now used to militarize the police which now shoots to kill it's own citizens 😂 You gotta see the joke in this

  21. Next door neighbor had the swat team came due to one of their kids took his gf as a hostage with an automatic gun he was wanted for drugs. Anyways after a few hours he let the gf go and a few hours later they shot every window out and tear gassed every window and then went inside and got him. While inside they tore down everything and cut whatever else was left. Broke every vase etc. and only got that drug dealer and his auto that he got illegally from a drug run to Mexico. He was spotted going inside with his gf and his dad made the call after not seeing his son for 3 years but knowing he was a drug dealer/ runner. Police refused to pay for the $30k plus worth of damage. That’s not including literally every window. Crazy day.

  22. looks like they are take better care in weapons department than actual military… And yet, these police are under absolutely no obligation to actually protect citizens

  23. I would like an investigation on a personal experience involving EPD & swat on Dec 19 2012 in escondido.I lost everything including my family because of how careless these guys are the costs of the damages to all my personal property damages were over 100,000 cause the used chemicals which were shot through the windows an went through several walls an cabinets an melted through all clothing an anything that didn't melt they threw out the broken windows an until experiencing this situation i never believed corruption was possible by police but its easy to prove this unless ones situation makes it difficult but if this country truly believes in justice for all than i know one day this will be looked into an investigated.theres a video on youtube titled (Escondido swat in action)read the comments

  24. These people are all criminals. These stupid motherfuckers are gonna defend that job until Hell freezes over. If you ask them if they need an aircraft carrier they'll say yes in the middle of Iowa. Where else can you find a job that has ZERO accountability for anything, gives you unlimited money, lets you brutalize anyone with your gang for nothing at all, allows you to murder just about anyone with the department defending you, steal anything you want, blame everything on everyone else and get rich doing it? NOWHERE can you find such a job. The more criminals there are the more job security they have so it's in their best interest to arrest as many people as they can. They all lie, they are ALL dirty, they prey upon the poor while concealing it from the rest, they plant drugs on people. Our country is soft and stupid and nothing will change until we get these pigs under control. At some point We The People are going to decide we've had enough of this shit. When that day comes all the hypocrites better run like hell.

    I'm currently watching pigs arresting people for feeding the homeless in Denver. Of course they have the whole place surrounded in case any homeless people who hate the cops were hungry. I can smell the contempt they have for our citizens from here.


  25. I love how it’s called militarization of police even though with most of what they have a citizen can leagally buy and own.

  26. They paid that $30,000 and the perp got away. They didn’t put it on the news because they didn’t want any copy cats.
    Fireman are real heroes.
    Did you see the invasion at Waco? They sent two dudes making $30K to a window on s roof. A nine year old kid fired a shot that went through the eyeball of the first ATF person and into the temple of the second on. They just rolled over dead, so they ordered that it be set on 🔥 fire. Waco FD refused to answer their call

  27. Wheres the grants for college students? My wife has been in college for 4 semesters with a 4.0 GPA. We cant get hardly any money for her Bachelor's in Nursing.

  28. I would want my kids teachers to have guns so they can neutralize the killer.Because we all know that cops never get there in time.

  29. Thats becasue swatting is wrong

    and insane.. how can any civilized society
    even tolarate this!
    Here's what the hackers should have done…
    ANONYMOUS; Find where the Officers live and do the same 911 call on each of them saying you seen a man with a gun in thier window, over and over with fake phone call apps and have them call on each other using another Officers personal number to call 911 on them… Maybe then they'll understand why this is unacceptable and absolutely unfair.

  30. How about doing police work and investigating first before sending the calvary. And its Taxpayer dollars not grant money. We bought equipment once for the military , and our taxes by the surplus again from ourselves.

  31. Yeah they're not pranksters, they're criminals and sociopaths/psychopaths and need to be called as such and prosecuted as such.

  32. at the video 12:13 when he aid can i speak to ur supervisor. can u let me talk to somone. he can see they edit a part out. bc it jumps. so i froze it and put it through one of my apps and sure enough. u can see it cut and u see maybe 8 frames. and if u read his lips looks like hes was going to say they wouldnt. and at the word wouldnt is where the frame ends. PEOPLE NEED TO STOP WATCHING VICE AND TAKE IT SERIOUS AT ALL. THERE JUST AS CORRUPT AS CNN NOW.

  33. They're making it sound like extreme events don't happen so we don't need to have the equipment ready to deal with these situations

  34. Hey, hey hey YouTube. Since you're watching a video about swatting, look up Andrew Finch. Andrew Finch was fuckin murdered. Funny how the man who shot Andrew Finch on his front porch while he was complying with the orders of the small army on his lawn sure didn't get charged with murder. Andrew Finch was complying when he was shot. That kid was murdered..
    That's how it is in the U.S., under Obama or under Trump, cops get away with murder. Andrew Finch and so many others that the police won't even try to keep track of how many people they murder. And they get away with it. This shit is out of hand.

    That "thin blue line" isn't so thin anymore and it's starting to prefer camouflage to blue. Oh yeah, and Andrew Finch

  35. it is really hard to find where the hacker is so in order to arrest them police needs to get inside in every home but some of them are innocent and surprisingly shock but this is just a secure operation so that their family is far away too any dangerous hackers.

  36. Not all of us who use Ubuntu Linux shown at 1:11 are bad guys… Just an Fyi. I use Linux on older hardware, or multimedia systems when I can….especially with windows 10 still being a bit unstable at times. Someone typing commands in a Linux terminal shouldn't automatically equal "Oh look hes hacking!" etc etc. From the text on the terminals that I can see, it appears that hes just listing directories of files that have been downloaded.

  37. This is disgusting that the police get this much freedom to carry military grade weapons. Too often we forget that police officers are just people too. People who could have mental breaks, bad days, swings of depression, ect. At no time or place should a police officer have this kind of firepower. And the victims of these poor swatting raids deserve to be compensated heavily for being needlessly battered by the pigs in blue.

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