Published: Mon, April 10, 2017
U.S. | By Vera Richards

Computer hack sets off 156 emergency sirens across Dallas

Computer hack sets off 156 emergency sirens across Dallas

Officials in Dallas announced on Saturday the more than 150 emergency alarms that sounded throughout Friday night into Saturday morning were the work of a hacker.

Sana Syed, the managing director of information for the city of Dallas, praised emergency management workers for their handling of the chaotic event at a press conference on Saturday.

Technicians are trying to determine how to bring the system back online without the risk of it being hacked again, he said. They have not contacted other authorities at this point, he said. Between 11:42 pm and 1:17 am, the tornado sirens continued to blast off the emergency signal. Eventually, city officials were forced to essentially unplug the entire system to deactivate it completely.

The sirens went through 15 cycles of a 90-second activation before they were shut down, he said.

"It does appear at this time that it was a hack", said Syed, "and we do believe that this came from the Dallas area".

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reportedly been informed of the hack but police have not been involved so far. "We are putting in safeguards to ensure this type of hack does not happen again".

Emergency dispatchers received around 4,400 calls between 11:40 and 3:00 a.m., Syed said. She said that usually from 11 p.m.to 7 a.m. they get about half that number of calls. The effect of this rather peculiar event was that the entire emergency line was flooded by calls, pushing the normal 10-second wait time up to a staggering five minutes. The city manually shut down parts of the system to turn off the city's 156 alarms - usually heard only during weather emergencies - by 1:20 a.m. Saturday. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

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