Brian Krebs talks to hacker who may have SWATted him and attacked Wired's Mat Honan

Last week, Brian Krebs (a respected security researcher and journalist who often publishes details about high-tech crime) was SWATted -- that is, someone defrauded his local police department into sending a SWAT team to his house, resulting in his getting confronted by gun-wielding, hair-trigger cops who had him lie on the ground and cuffed him before it was all sorted out.

Krebs, being a talented investigator, is hot on the trail of the people or person responsible for this. And a variety of sources point to a 20-year-old hacker who goes by "Phobia," and whose real name, according to Krebs, is Ryan Stevenson. Phobia was implicated in the attack on Wired reporter Mat Honan, wherein his laptop drive and online backup were deleted, including irreplaceable photos of his child's first year, and eight years' worth of email.

Krebs phoned "Phobia" up and ended up speaking to Phobia and his father. Phobia denied attacking Krebs and insisted that he had nothing to do with the gamer/fraudster clan behind it (though Krebs pointed out that Phobia can be heard speaking in the group's YouTube videos, which document their attacks), but admitted that he had been the culprit in hacking Honan (his father then came onto the line to deny this). The transcript is the most interesting part of the piece:

BK: Uh huh. And is Honan referring to you in this article?

RS: Yeah.

BK Yes?

RS: Uh huh.

BK: Did anything bad ever happen to you because of this?

RS: No.

BK: So, this was your doing with the Mat Honan hack, but you say you would never use a site like a stresser or…

RS: Yeah, I would never do that. That’s stupid.

BK: …or hack a reporter’s account or launch a denial of service attack against a reporter, or SWAT his house….


BK: So what’s the point of hacking a reporter’s iCloud account? Why’d you do that?

RS: Just to prove a point that, like…the security is breachable.

The Obscurest Epoch is Today


  1. There’s a whole lot of activity with stolen credit cards and social security numbers in that article. Kind of amazing how much evidence of major felonies these guys are posting to their youtube accounts. Well, maybe not so amazing.

      1. They’re just random vandals, of the online variety. The DOJ cares about them as much as they care about thugs vandalizing bus stops.

        Things would be different if they were, say, activists with a political agenda threatening the profits of some corporation. Then the hammer would fall down hard. 

        Fucking priorities, how do they work?

        1. toyg, actually these crimes are considered felonies, unlike your average bus stop vandalism.
          The problem however is gaining evidence, showing means+motive+opportunity. Authorities who respond also need to reach out to federal authorities, as it is very likely that the people who actually committed the crime are going to be out of the PD’s jurisdiction.
          After that you have hours of collaborating evidence between the two agencies. Then federal authorities need to prove that they have enough evidence to gain a search warrant from a judge.
          The steps that are involved make it a long process, where as us internet dwellers have a much easier time tracking those down who actually committed the crime within only a matter of days or hours.
          This, of course, is a very unfortunate flaw in our Judicial system.

    1.  It’s more than OK, it’s actually correct, unlike defraud which, to paraphrase a wise man, does not mean what Cory thinks it means.

      de·fraud  – verb (used with object)
      to deprive of a right, money, or property by fraud: Dishonest employees defrauded the firm of millions of dollars.

  2. “Just to prove a point that, like…the security is breachable.”

    Those crazy hackers, always proving points in such outlandish and destructive ways… almost like it’s an excuse!

    1.  Don’t worry. Soon, it’ll be as commonplace as “We take this matter very seriously”.

  3. We have met the enemy, and he is … a pimply-faced near-teenager who lives with his parents and whose dad would really like him to stop talking to the reporter NOW.

  4. Cory,why do you describe the cops in this situation as ‘trigger-happy’.  Everything I read in the article makes them sound exactly the opposite, unless you use that descriptor simply because they had their guns drawn?  From Krebs article:  
    “One of the officers asked if it was okay to enter my house, and I said sure. Then an officer who was dressed more like a supervisor approached me and asked if I was the guy who had filed a police report about this eventuality about six months earlier. When I responded in the affirmative, he spoke into his handheld radio, and the police began stowing their rifles and the cuffs were removed from my wrists. He explained that they’d tried to call me on the phone number that had called them (my mobile), but that there was no answer. He apologized for the inconvenience, and said they were only doing their jobs. I told him no hard feelings. He told me that the problem of SWATting started on the West Coast and has been slowly making its way east.”

    This sounds pretty reasonable to me.  They arrived with a warning of a crime in progress and approached cautiously.  As soon as it was clear what was really going on, they packed up, apologized and went home, promising to be smarter in the future.  They’d even tried to verify before they got there.  This isn’t ‘the man’ running wild here.

    1.  Yeah, I’m as wary as the next guy about abusive police power, but this sounds like a fairly decent response.

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