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SWAT team turns up at house of Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts due to cyber hack

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It has recently been revealed that Roberts was the latest victim of an increasing trend called “swatting”, whereby the police get sent to someone’s house in response to a hoax call.

“An armed response team turned up at my house in the middle of the night,” Roberts said. “I wasn’t actually there – I was on holiday. The first thing I knew was when our au pair contacted us the next morning to tell us that at 03:30 she’d been woken up and disturbed by a SWAT team of five armed policemen, three unarmed policemen and a police dog.”

Roberts claimed that the police had received a report of a man prowling round the house with a gun. According to a spokesperson from the police, it had been suggested that a man had murdered a woman at Roberts’ address. This was followed by a second call during which the caller stated he had members of his family held in a room. This call was assessed as requiring a firearms response.

A member of the site had been similarly targeted. “Needless to say, she and her young family were pretty shaken up,” Roberts added. She also suggested that the husband had initially been handcuffed due to the report having identified a man as shooting in the house.

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Both the swatting and DDoS attacks are believed to be linked to twitter user @DadSecurity, who reportedly claimed responsibility for both before deleting the account. According to the BBC, the account repeatedly posted “RIP Mumsnet” and claimed to have stolen data from the site before being blocked.

It’s certainly not the first time that swatting has been used as part of a grudge match. In 2014, an intense session of online gaming turned nasty when a 70-man SWAT team was called in to arrest a 17 year-old gamer by a disgruntled opponent on the video game “Call of Duty”.

Similarly, webcam footage captured a SWAT team arresting an online gamer after a hoax call claimed he was armed and dangerous. Here’s the footage:

In the case of Mumsnet, since falling victim to the Heartbleed security bug in 2014, the site had been subject to a series of cyber attacks aimed at compromising its systems and its users’ data. However, this latest twist in the tale is particularly unsettling, with cyber crime now having entered the physical world for double impact.

According to Sol Cates, CSO of Vormetric, until now, we have understandably focussed on the impact breaches have had on business reputation and the bottom-line, but the personal, psychological effect of such an event cannot be underestimated – “let alone tolerated”.

This was echoed by Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director of LogRhythm, who explained that this breach represented an interesting development in the world of cyber attacks. If the DDoS and swatting attacks were indeed carried out by the same person or group, then it suggests highly personal and vindictive motives.  

He said: “It’s one thing to have your online world invaded by a stranger, but quite another to find yourself physically attacked as well. While Mumsnet has said that it doesn’t store users’ addresses, and was quick off the mark in telling users to change their passwords, many will still be concerned about what happens next.”

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