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Hackers Set Off Dallas Tornado Sirens In Elaborate Hoax

Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is blaming hackers for all of the tornado sirens in the city going off in the middle of the night on Friday. After 11 pm, 156 tornado sirens blasted for almost two hours. The hoax flooded 911 dispatch centers with calls from frightened and annoyed citizens.

City officials believe the hack originated locally, given the proximity required to turn all of the sirens on at once. OEM eventually had to shut down the whole siren system during the two-hour attack window after attempts to isolate the problem proved ineffective.

In a tweeted statement from OEM, officials said they would have to re-assess the overall health of the siren system once they reactivate it.

According to a piece in the Dallas Observer, Mayor Mike Rawlings says he plans to upgrade the city’s cybersecurity infrastructure as a result of the hack and several dropped calls at 911 dispatch centers over the weekend.

City infrastructure is a key target for cyber adversaries. As CivSource previously reported, San Francisco recently faced problems with its Muni transit system after hackers took over ticketing machines and other devices using ransomware. The city of Chicago has also had issues with hackers targeting city systems.