Hackers penetrated the emergency warning system of the city of Dallas, Texas, late on Friday night, setting off 156 emergency sirens that kept residents awake till the early hours of Saturday.
City officials confirm that there was no extreme weather emergency on Friday night and that the system was breached by hackers believed to be from the Dallas area, causing a flood of calls to 9/11 centers.
Technicians were trying to determine how to bring the system back online without the risk of it being hacked again, he said. In the meantime, the public has access to other alert systems. Vaz said he hoped to have the siren system back up by Sunday.
The sirens began sounding at 11:42 p.m. Friday. Officials deactivated the entire system by 1:17 a.m. Saturday. Vaz said the sirens went through about 15 cycles of a 90-second siren activation.
“We shut it down as quickly as we could, taking into consideration all of the precautions and protocols we had to take to make sure that we were not compromising our 156-siren system,” he said.
City spokeswoman Sana Syed said officials believe the hack came from the Dallas area. Vaz said city officials have asked the Federal Communications Commission for help in determining who was behind the hack. He said police were not involved yet.
“We can’t talk a whole lot about the hack itself, because obviously we don’t want this to happen again,” Syed said.
Syed said that there was a surge in calls to 911 during the time the sirens were sounding. She said that they had about 4,400 calls from about 11:30 p.m. Friday to about 3 a.m. Saturday. She said that usually from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. they get about half that number of calls. The largest surge came from 12 a.m. to 12:15 a.m., when about 800 calls were received. The longest wait time was six minutes.
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