Did you ever wonder where the hackers went who spread chaos and mayhem just for fun?\u00a0 Those not-for-profit entrepreneurs who made our lives exciting?\u00a0 Well, some are alive and well in the world of 911 prank calls known as \u201cswatting.\u201dWhat is swatting?According to Wikipedia.org,\u2026swatting 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.The number and severity of these prank calls have been increasing, some swatters starting with sending pizzas to unsuspecting home owners and graduating to sending police to someone\u2019s home as part of a serious crime in progress report.\u00a0 Law enforcement is trying to crack down.According to a recent article at telegram.com, 18-year-old Randal Ellis, living with his parents in Mukilteo, WA, placed 185 calls to 911 operators across the country before being apprehended.\u00a0 He was sentenced to three years imprisonment. In another case, eight people were charged with \u201corchestrating up to 300 \u2018swatting\u2019 calls to victims they met on telephone party chat lines. Late last year, a teenager from Worcester, Mass. pleaded guilty to a numerous calls over a 5-month period, which included a bomb threat and a report of an armed gunmen at two schools. Source: The dangerous game of \u2018swatting\u2019, Jordan Robertson, The Associated Press, 2 February 2009The methods used to place these calls depend on 911 operator inability to tell the difference between a spoofed call and a real call.\u00a0 One threat is caller ID spoofing.\u00a0 This doesn\u2019t take much effort, given the helpful Web sites available, such as SpoofCard.\u00a0 Another, more popular method, is spoofing caller ID over VoIP.\u00a0 Why you should careThe two primary reasons a swatter does what he or she does are fun or revenge.\u00a0 Swatting incidents can cause business interruption or embarrassment for executives.\u00a0 For example, swatters can call in a fire, bomb, or other type of incident with impunity which would cause building evacuation.\u00a0 Disgruntled employees, shareholders, or activists might spoof one or more home phone numbers of key executives to call in\u00a0heinous crimes in progress at their residences, prompting a response by police--and local news teams. And we haven\u2019t even started with the damage terrorists might cause with well placed swats.\u00a0\u00a0 For example, some pranksters have called in utility service disconnects.\u00a0 Just think what people with bigger agendas might attempt.What can you do?Swatting calls are typically made to 911 services.\u00a0 Work with local organizations and government officials to ensure minimum safeguards are in place.[Gary Allen, editor of Dispatch Monthly, a Berkeley, Calif.-based magazine focused on public-safety communications centers] said upgrading the communications centers' computers to flash an Internet caller's IP address could be helpful in thwarting fraudulent calls. He said an even simpler fix, tweaking the computers to identify calls from Internet telephone services and flash the name of the service provider to dispatchers, can cost under $5,000, but is usually still too costly for many communications centers.But because this style of fraudulent calls is so new, and many emergency-dispatch centers receive few Internet calls in the first place, those upgrades are not frequently done.Source: The dangerous game of \u2018swatting\u2019, Jordan Robertson, The Associated Press, 2 February 2009Regardless, 911 services should implement solutions which allow them to verify, within reason, caller location.You should also work with your enterprise phone service provider to see if it has methods to help eliminate or identify spoofed calls, preferably before they reach your PBX.\u00a0 Finally, if you believe your organization is or has been the victim of swatting, inform law enforcement.\u00a0 The best way to hinder what is often an example of asinine recreational activity is to clearly demonstrate consequences (i.e., jail time).