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17 October 2007, 17:39

19 year old to be arraigned for breaching US 911 emergency call system

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Washington State resident Randall Ellis, 19, will be arraigned on 22nd October for abusing the 911 emergency call system. It appears that he has a method for spoofing the origin of a 911 call, and is believed to have used this to make over 200 hoax emergency calls throughout the US over a period of a couple of years. However, as reported by the Orange County Register, his latest exploit came near to ending in tragedy on the night of 29th March this year. He reported a bogus drug-related shooting at an apparently randomly selected private address in Lake Forest, Orange County, California, eliciting a full armed response from the authorities.

The specific method used by Ellis to falsify the origin of his calls is apparently known to the authorities, but has not been disclosed for security reasons. However his latest hoax call was traced back to him using what is described as "electronic forensics". Although fake 911 calls are commonplace, this is an example of a growing phenomenon called SWATing, the explicit intent of which is to elicit an armed response on an innocent target. Such new antisocial trends run the risk of causing escalating low-level disruption of national critical infrastructures, and quite possibly constitute a more significant day-to-day threat than conventionally defined "cyber terrorism".


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