Dallas Blames Hacker for Major Malfunction of Emergency Sirens

Dallas, Texas

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After 156 outdoor sirens wailed for more than an hour, the city is “putting in safeguards to ensure this type of hack does not happen again.”

The city of Dallas has brought in help from Federal Communication Commission to assist in its investigation of a hacking incident late Friday night where all of the city’s 156 outdoor emergency sirens were set off and wailed for about an hour before authorities could take the system offline early Saturday.

The incident prompted the city’s 9-1-1 system to be flooded with phone calls.

According to a statement from Dallas City Hall released Saturday:

We can state at this time that the City’s siren system was hacked Friday night. For security reasons, we cannot discuss the details of how this was done, but we do believe that the hack came from the Dallas area. We have notified the FCC for assistance in identifying the source of this hack. We are putting in safeguards to ensure this type of hack does not happen again.  

Right now, our priority is to work on reactivating our system. We won’t know the health of our sirens until we reactivate the system. We ask residents to be patient with us in case the sirens sound again during re-activation and please do not call 911 or 311 for concerns about sirens.

The incident in Dallas poses an important question for state and local emergency managers across the nation: Is our system vulnerable to a similar type of cyberattack?

"This is yet another serious example of the need for us to upgrade and better safeguard our city's technology infrastructure," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "It's a costly proposition, which is why every dollar of taxpayer money must be spent with critical needs such as this in mind. Making the necessary improvements is imperative for the safety of our citizens."

(City of Dallas)