Hackers Infiltrate Dallas' 156-Siren Emergency Alert System With Annoying Results
As our world becomes increasingly connected, the risk of exploitation continues to rise. Last October, we wrote of an issue that could become an all-too-common occurrence in the future: exploitation of our emergency systems.
A hot topic in recent years has been exploiting mobile emergency alert systems, which, while likely annoying to many, can prove useful in capturing kidnap victims or finding other missing persons. At the same time, security that's truly bulletproof is very rare, which means that very little in our connected world is completely safe from vulnerabilities.
In the aforementioned post, some crafty beings took advantage of the mobile emergency alert system to warn of, of all things, a zombie apocalypse. It's hard to call an attack like that malicious, but what it proves is that if someone did want to send out a malicious message of some sort, this non-malicious message proved that it would be possible.
Flickr: Jon Olav Eikenes
Mobile messages are just one one of the many emergency services that could be bypassed, though, with the city of Dallas finding that out the hard way this weekend. At just before midnight on Saturday, 156 sirens located around the city started wailing, and didn't stop until and hour-and-a-half later. The sirens were not constant, but instead went through 90 second cycles a total of 15 times. Ultimately, it proved to be an absolute nuisance to Dallas' 1.6 million residents, many of whom were undoubtedly trying to sleep.
I don't know which is worse, the blaring #DallasSiren near me or the creepy siren in the distance....— glynnwilcox (@glynnwilcox) April 8, 2017
At this time, Dallas police have not been contacted about the issue, but the FCC has been. Engineers are working to figure out just how this breach could have occurred, but it's currently believed that the attack was a local one, and not performed outside of the area, which will hopefully make it easier to track down.