Hacker unleashes late-night chaos throughout Dallas

A truck  crashed into the Ahlens department store at Drottninggatan in central Stockholm police said.
FREDRIK SANDBERG  AFP  Getty Images

A truck crashed into the Ahlens department store at Drottninggatan in central Stockholm police said. FREDRIK SANDBERG AFP Getty Images

"Tornado sirens going off here in Dallas with no rain in sight".

Last November, the Dallas City Council allocated $567,368 to upgrade the emergency sirens, which primarily serve to warn residents of the thunderstorms and tornadoes that regularly sweep through North Texas during the spring.

On Saturday, Rocky Vaz, the director of the Dallas Office of Emergency Management, said city engineers identified the source of the sounding alarms to be a hacker in the Dallas area. More than 4,400 residents called 911 to report the alarms, extending the normal wait time for callers from 10 seconds to about six minutes, according to USA Today's report.

Yet since it wasn't storming, some people mistook the blaring sirens as a "warning sign of a "bomb or something, a missile", according to Sana Syed, the city's public information officer. The Director of Dallas' Office of Emergency Management suggests that finding the hacker would be like "finding a needle in a haystack", so I guess Dallas better stock up on ear plugs.

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"We can't talk a whole lot about the hack itself, because obviously we don't want this to happen again", Syed said. "So, within an hour and a half, about, we turned off the entire system". She added, "Every time we thought we had turned it off, the sirens would sound again, because whoever was hacking us was continuously hacking us". He added, "This is a very, very rare event", and cited industry experts as saying "the hack was among the largest ever to affect emergency sirens". The city has asked the Federal Communications Commission to help with the hard task of identifying a culprit.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has promised a full investigation, tweeting the hack "was an attack on our emergency notification system". They have not contacted other authorities at this point, he said.

Officials hope to have the alert system back up and running by Sunday night or Monday afternoon.

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