The sirens started at 11:42 p.m. Friday 4/7/17 and weren’t silenced until 1:20 a.m. Saturday 4/8/17. During that time millions of Dallas residents repeatedly had their dreams interrupted by no fewer than 156 tornado emergency sirens.
The alarms have a duration of 90 seconds per cycle and were activated 15 times during the cyberattack.
Hackers Were Local
What was at first described as a “malfunction” by officials was later deemed to be a hack of the emergency system. According to the Washington Post
“Officials have ruled out a remote hack — telling reporters someone gained physical access to a hub connecting all the sirens, which may not be turned on again until Monday as the city tries to figure out who, how and why.”
Critical Infrastructure Attacks Remain a Global Concern
Last January we reported that critical infrastructure vulnerability was a hot topic at the annual Davos conference and 15 months later the Dallas incident has literally and figuratively sounded the critical infrastructure alarm.
According to federal data, critical infrastructure attacks are on the rise. In 2012 less than 200 attacks were documented. By 2015 that number had risen to nearly 300.
Regardless of the intent of the hackers and regardless of the fact that the “hack” appears to have required physical access it serves as another example of how critical infrastructure can be compromised with apparent ease.
As Texas and federal officials continue their investigation it will be interesting to learn the motives, the details surrounding the vulnerabilities that were exploited and exactly how the hack was orchestrated.
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