Most gamers are familiar with the terms “doxing” and “swatting.” Doxing is when someone dumps your private information on the Internet, like a social media page or message board. Swatting is when a threat actor calls an emergency number and falsely reports you for a crime, usually initiating a heavily armed visit from the police or a SWAT team. For example, someone may call 9-1-1 and tell the operator that you’re holding half a dozen people hostage and holding an explosive device.
There’s often a link between doxing and swatting. For example, when someone doxes your address on the Internet, another troll may use it for swatting.
While all types of people are hit by the cruel pranks, including everyday citizens, activists, journalists, company CEOs, and many celebrities, gamers seem to be the most frequent victims.
Examples of Swatting Against Gamers
A gamer in Ohio was sentenced to prison in a swatting case when Wichita police mistakenly shot and killed 28-year-old Andrew Finch at his front door after a hoax call. The prank began due to a dispute in Call of Duty WWII. Sadly, swatting incidents resulting in tragedy are far too common.
Meanwhile, Twitch streamers like Tfue, Bugha, Clix, and Dellor are frequent targets of swatting. Often, their live stream is interrupted by a call from heavily armed police offers. Fortunately, the incidents haven’t ended in tragedy yet.
How To Protect Yourself
Before streaming videos, please check your surroundings and remove anything that could allow a threat actor to identify your location, such as envelopes, pictures, etc. It would help if you also told your family members to avoid interrupting your streaming. For example, a threat actor who sees your sibling or child in the background may use their picture for a reverse image search and learn more about your family.
Some types of spyware can be pretty sneaky. That’s why you should research how to detect keylogger attacks and spyware infections. Also, use anti-malware software to detect Trojans, spyware, stalkerware, keyloggers, and other malicious tools that can invade your privacy. Likewise, keep your desktop, laptop, and mobile device software updated to plug vulnerabilities that spyware can exploit. For example, Pegasus spyware breaches devices through exploits.
To boost network security, you’ll also need to set a complex password for your router and your WiFi network. To secure your computer further, harden your network defenses with a firewall and a gamer privacy VPN that masks your location and encrypts your data. A good VPN will also secure public WiFi. And as you probably know, hackers can breach unsecured public WiFi networks to attack your privacy.
Please also examine your social media accounts and hide information that someone can use to learn your location. Something as innocuous as a public post about a pizza joint near your home can put a threat actor on the right track.
Many gamers also reach out to local law enforcement officials to discuss swatting. Some police departments even have swatting registries for potential victims of the hoax in the neighborhood. With your life at stake, take every precaution to stay safe.