Dallas officials claim computer hacking for setting off emergency sirens throughout the city early Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Rocky Vaz, director of Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management, said that all 156 of the city’s sirens were activated more than a dozen times.
Officials don’t know who was responsible for the hacking, but Vaz said “with a good deal of confidence that this was someone outside our system” and in the Dallas area.
The city has figured out how the emergency system was compromised and is working to prevent it from happening again, he said. It’s a “very concerning” issue that Dallas has never faced.
The system remained shut down Saturday while crews safeguarded it from another hack. The city said the system should be restored Sunday or Monday — in time for thunderstorms that are expected to begin rolling through the area early next week.
One of the biggest challenges the security breach posed was to the city’s 911 call system, which has been strained recently by technical difficulties and short staffing.
Emergency Siren FAQs
What should I do when I hear the sirens?
When you hear tornado sirens, go inside and tune to local media to get more information.
Why can’t I hear the sirens in my house?
Sirens are an outdoor warning system designed only to alert those who are outside that something dangerous is approaching.
How can I get alerts when I’m at work or in my house?
For alerts indoors, every home and business should have a NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards. NOAA Weather Radio is like a smoke detector for severe weather, and it can wake you up when a warning is issued for your area so you can take appropriate action.
When are sirens tested?
Sirens are tested according to local community policies.
Why don’t the outdoor warning sirens sound an all-clear signal?
People should be indoors and monitoring local media for updates on the storm.
Will the sirens warn me of every dangerous storm?
The safest approach is to be proactive and use all of the information available to protect yourself and your family from threatening weather. Nothing can replace common sense. If a storm is approaching, the lightning alone is a threat. Sirens are only one part of a warning system that includes preparation, NOAA Weather Radio, and local media.
Who activates the sirens?
Sirens are typically activated by city or county officials, usually a police or fire department or emergency management personnel. Check with your city or county officials to learn more.