NOTE: THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 2014, FOLLOWING A SERIES OF SWATTING INCIDENTS IN THE GAMING WORLD. I AM RESURFACING IT IN ORDER TO GIVE THOSE WHO MAY BE AFFECTED IN THE WORLD OF COMICS INFORMATION THAT MIGHT BE USEFUL.
So, in the wake of the whole GamerGate/Breitbart/Nero situation, it’s become apparent that those of us who were named as members of the GameJournoPros list are at risk of certain attacks. Among those is “SWATting,” or however you stylize that.
I’m absurdly fortunate to work at a company that offers training for this sort of thing, which I went through this afternoon. As such, I figured I’d share what I learned from my brief session, with hopes that it will help out, even if it’s just for safety of mind.
Note: This is more practical than I want it to be. Obviously, in an ideal world, this sort of thing would be something we’d never, ever have to worry about. It sucks, but it’s definitely a threat right now, particularly in the wake of a certain reptilian hacking group’s tweets.
Let’s talk prevention first. One of the big things were were told was to call your local police department ahead of time. Let them know what’s going on and tell them there’s a possibility of a SWATting incident in the future. Give them your address and your phone number, so if they receive call, they can call you to check up first. Ideally, this will defuse the situation enough for no police action to be required.
Hopefully, that will be where it ends. Just in case, though, we went through some basic stuff as to what to do if SWATting actually happens.
Basically, if someone SWATs you, they fake a phone call from your location and fake a violent emergency, prompting police action. Three things could happen from there.
Pretty simple stuff. They’ll call, ask if there’s an emergency, and go from there. Give them all the information you have, including your location, how many people are in the home, let them know there’s absolutely not an emergency situation happening. If they’re simply calling ahead, they’ve probably got an inclination that nothing’s going on, so just try to remain calm.
Again, pretty simple. A lone officer or a duo may show up at your door to scope it out. Again, give them your information and how many people are in the house. These are usually just checks to see if nothing looks terribly suspicious. Assuming everyone remains calm and cool, not a big deal.
And, the big one. If the PD is convinced that there is an actual situation happening, they may simply bust down your door and come on in. In all likelihood, those making the SWATting call will do their best to call after hours, to make sure you’re home.
Obviously, put your hands up and try to remain calm. Let the police do their thing before trying to explain the situation. This is a really dangerous, awful situation for all involved, so the goal is to just stay calm until you have a chance to explain yourself. This will suck. A lot. It’s a total invasion of everything we hold dear, and isn’t acceptable. That said, the goal is just to defuse the situation.