Updated: Feb 3, 2021
Law enforcement agencies in the US have issued warnings to owners of smart home devices with built-in cameras and voice capabilities that they could be hacked for a new trend called ‘swatting’.
BBC News reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) made a public service announcement urging users to enable two-factor authentication on such devices to help prevent swatting attacks from offenders using stolen email passwords to hack into them.
Swatting involved a hoax call to emergency services reporting an immediate threat to human life that provokes law enforcement and armed special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams to respond at the given location, while the hackers livestream the unfolding events for around $5, and have even taunted the police throughout the device’s camera and speakers.
“Users should enable two-factor authentication for their online accounts and on all devices accessible through an Internet connection in order to reduce the chance a criminal could access their devices,” the public service announcement read.
“It is highly recommended that the user's second factor for two-factor or multi-factor authentication be a mobile device number and not a secondary email account.”
The FBI also advised users of smart home devices with cameras or voice capabilities to use “strong, complex passwords,” and not duplicate passwords between different online accounts.
The FBI is now working with device manufacturers to advise customers about the new scheme and how to avoid being victimised, along with working with law enforcement first responders. Device manufacturers recently notified law enforcement of offenders using stolen email passwords for the swatting attacks.
The hack can provide offenders with information about your home and can highlight any potential weaknesses in your home security.
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