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Hacking Activates Dallas Emergency Sirens in the Middle of the Night

This is a bit concerning. Officials in Dallas said the city’s warning system was hacked late on Friday night, disrupting the city when all 156 of its emergency sirens sounded into the early hours of Saturday morning. The Dallas Emergency Sirens started going off around 11:40 p.m. Friday and lasted until 1:20 a.m. Saturday. This created a sense of fear and confusion, jarring residents awake and flooding 911 with thousands of calls. The sirens are meant to alert the public to severe weather or other emergencies, but was interpreted by some as a warning sign of a “bomb or something, a missile.” The city said that every time that they turned it off, it would sound again as the hacker kept bombarding the system.

The system was still down on Saturday afternoon, and officials said they hoped to have it functional again by the end of the weekend. They said they had pinpointed the origin of the security breach after ruling out that the alarms had come from their control system or from remote access.

The city has had other recent struggles with its emergency systems. Its 911 system has had a problem with one phone carrier that has caused wait times as long as 26 minutes.

At least 4,400 calls came into the area’s 911 system locally in the hours around the attack on Friday night — about double the amount normal overnight. The longest wait time was about six minutes, she said.

Security officials have warned for years about the risks that hacking attacks can pose to infrastructure. The number of attacks on critical infrastructure appears to have risen: to nearly 300 in 2015 from just under 200 in 2012, according to federal data. In 2013, hackers tied to the Iranian military tried to gain control of a small dam in upstate New York.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/08/us/dallas-emergency-sirens-hacking.html

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