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Dallas Siren Hacking Seen as ‘Wake-up Call’ on Infrastructure
Print Article Contributed by BSM Staff

DALLAS -- The Dallas City Manager is reviewing critical, city-wide systems after the city’s siren system was hacked last Friday night, causing all 156 sirens across the city to go off, serving “as a wake-up call for the risks represented by our operational infrastructure," say some.

"Due to the nature and age of our industrial infrastructure, we are vulnerable to attacks like the one in Dallas through a large number of attack surfaces,” said Paul Myer, CEO of Veracity Industrial Networks, a provider of next‐generation network security for the industrial Internet. “Those who oversee and run our power, water, oil and gas producing machinery must take notice and upgrade these industrial networks to protect from cyber threats."

City staff continue to test the outdoor warning siren system, using tools that will not involve activating the sirens, said City Manager T.C. Broadnax.

“We believe that the City’s siren system was compromised Friday night. For security reasons, we cannot discuss the details of how this was done, but we believe it came from the Dallas area. We are taking Friday night’s incident very seriously.”

In addition to the city siren system, Broadnax has begun the process of looking at critical systems city-wide, to examine what, if any vulnerabilities may exist. These include the water system, radio network, 911/311, police-fire dispatch, flood warning system, financial systems, etc.

After extensive consultation and discussions with siren engineers, the city has implemented several improvements to prevent this from happening again. We have added extra encryption and other security measures to the system.

This incident is being investigated by Dallas Police Department and several federal partners. DPD is taking the lead in this investigation, working with the FBI and agencies that specialize in these kinds of incidents. “They are gathering complete information on our system. Looking at how it interfaces with other systems in the city and validate what we think happened. Once that is confirmed, next steps include finding the source of the compromise,” said Broadnax.

“I want to stress that the city’s warning siren system is fully operational. We are asking the public to refrain from calling 911 or 311 if they hear siren activity. If the sirens are activated for any reason, information will be posted on the City’s social media channels.”

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