Dallas-Area Tornado Sirens Targeted by Hacker, System Not Operational
Thursday, March 14, 2019 | Comments

A pair of cities located in the southern Dallas metro area said a hacker or group of hackers targeted and activated their combined tornado warning system. As a result, the system is not operational, officials said.

The cities of Lancaster and DeSoto, Texas, said that about 2:30 a.m. March 12, the tornado warning system activated despite the lack of a weather threat. Both cities said the activation appeared to be a hostile action by one or more people and not a malfunction of the system.

“This action appears to have been intentional, and the city’s outdoor warning siren system is not operational at this time,” a statement from the city of DeSoto said.

Residents from both cities took to Twitter to express confusion and frustration with the early morning activation of the sirens. One Twitter user posted a video of the fire department manually shutting down a tornado siren in Lancaster.

Both cities said they turned the matter over to their police departments to investigate.

“We will continue to make every effort to safely restore our outdoor siren system and to work with our law enforcement agencies in further investigation,” a statement from the city of Lancaster said. “Given this new investigation, we will not be able to comment any further at this point.”

Both cities encouraged residents to sign up for their CodeRed alerts system, as well as follow local TV stations and the local National Weather Service office, to stay updated about potential severe weather while the tornado siren system is out of service.

This is the second incident in less than two years where emergency sirens have been hacked in the Dallas area. In April 2017, Dallas City Manager TC Broadnax announced that a hacker had compromised the city’s outdoor warning system and activated all 156 sirens in Dallas.

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Comments
On 3/21/19, Michael said:
Dallas 2017 — shame on hackers.

Dallas 2019 — shame on government IT management.

Hiding behind police and laws is a poor plan when you should have had a fix to a known threat.
The real crime is how are you allowed keep your job?

This type of serious threat to public safety erodes confidence in governance in all juridictions.

But I am old school, and no one ever had to ask me for an excuse why government public-safety systems I supported were out of service.

Michael


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