Author Topic: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas  (Read 11249 times)

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Offline W2NAP

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2017, 03:59:49 pm »
Huh?! So US cities have hundreds of sirens, like in the WWII? Strange.

Can somebody from US tell what is the normal usage for those sirens, and what are people suppose to do when they hear them, please?

tornado alert in many places, dam break in some, nuclear meltdown (when near nuclear reactors) and yes still would be used for air raid, or inbound nuclear attack
 

Offline W2NAP

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2017, 04:03:23 pm »
also. I am not sure what mode dallas uses them for tornado alert.. but these sirens usually have a few settings  single tone and wail (up/down)
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2017, 04:43:25 pm »
You'd think they would have a special test mode that cycles in a distinctive pattern or runs for just long enough to spool up the sirens once.
 

Offline W2NAP

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2017, 05:49:51 pm »
You'd think they would have a special test mode that cycles in a distinctive pattern or runs for just long enough to spool up the sirens once.

here when they test (sat noon) they turn it on single tone for about 1 minute.
 

Offline donmr

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2017, 06:46:43 pm »
Also cities on the West coast where tsunamis are a hazard.
 
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Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2017, 07:14:58 pm »
That is pretty funny, you'd think they would be more secure than that, like have some kind of encrypted web interface where you can flip them on/off.   
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2017, 07:50:39 pm »
Also cities on the West coast where tsunamis are a hazard.

I'm on the West coast and I'm not aware of any sirens around here. I recall seeing a few derelict looking sirens in Los Angeles but nowhere else that I recall.
 

Online CatalinaWOW

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2017, 10:13:08 pm »
That is pretty funny, you'd think they would be more secure than that, like have some kind of encrypted web interface where you can flip them on/off.

So you encrypt them.  And then when a tornado pops up you are searching around for the guy with the encryption key.  Or you widely distribute the encryption key which starts to resemble not having encryption.

There is always a tug of war between system usability and security.  Which is why the current environment where more and more people feel free to do harmful things for fun or influence is disheartening.  It tilts the balance toward security.
 
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Offline donmr

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2017, 10:41:32 pm »
Also cities on the West coast where tsunamis are a hazard.

I'm on the West coast and I'm not aware of any sirens around here. I recall seeing a few derelict looking sirens in Los Angeles but nowhere else that I recall.

They are all over the Oregon and Washington coasts, along with Tsunami evacuation route signs.
 

Offline edavid

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2017, 10:48:53 pm »
Also cities on the West coast where tsunamis are a hazard.

I'm on the West coast and I'm not aware of any sirens around here. I recall seeing a few derelict looking sirens in Los Angeles but nowhere else that I recall.

San Francisco not only has sirens, they test them every Tuesday!

http://sfdem.org/outdoor-public-warning-system-0
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/What-is-that-San-Francisco-noon-siren-6462186.php
 

Online Nusa

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2017, 10:56:08 pm »
Similar sirens are also used in small towns across the US, primarily as a means of recalling volunteer paramedics/firefighters to the station during an emergency call.
That might be their surviving usage, but used to be small town whistles/sirens were used daily to tell workers when it was lunchtime and quitting time. The practice was still common when I was a kid, but it's a pretty rare town that still does now that everyone wears a watch or carries a smartphone.
 

Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #36 on: April 10, 2017, 03:00:37 am »
That is pretty funny, you'd think they would be more secure than that, like have some kind of encrypted web interface where you can flip them on/off.

So you encrypt them.  And then when a tornado pops up you are searching around for the guy with the encryption key.  Or you widely distribute the encryption key which starts to resemble not having encryption.

There is always a tug of war between system usability and security.  Which is why the current environment where more and more people feel free to do harmful things for fun or influence is disheartening.  It tilts the balance toward security.

Suppose the info could leak, but this is like any other system, only ones whose job it is to use it would be given access.    Or is this something actually meant to be used by the public? ex: if you spot a tornado.
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #37 on: April 10, 2017, 03:51:47 am »
I don't suppose anyone on the forum lives in Dallas, and can tell us what it sounded like?

The sound is very similar to WWII air raid sirens. One example:
Vbe - vídeo blog eletrônico http://videos.vbeletronico.com

Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 
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Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #38 on: April 10, 2017, 04:16:04 am »
That is super haunting.  Pretty much the sound of impeding doom.

That is why I live where the air hurts my face.  :P
 

Online CatalinaWOW

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #39 on: April 10, 2017, 04:25:31 am »
That is pretty funny, you'd think they would be more secure than that, like have some kind of encrypted web interface where you can flip them on/off.

So you encrypt them.  And then when a tornado pops up you are searching around for the guy with the encryption key.  Or you widely distribute the encryption key which starts to resemble not having encryption.

There is always a tug of war between system usability and security.  Which is why the current environment where more and more people feel free to do harmful things for fun or influence is disheartening.  It tilts the balance toward security.

Suppose the info could leak, but this is like any other system, only ones whose job it is to use it would be given access.    Or is this something actually meant to be used by the public? ex: if you spot a tornado.

Access of course could be limited.  But as we all know a secret known to more than one person isn't a secret.  And normal operation of a system like this would require dozens if not hundreds to know the key.  If you can only trigger the system through radar detections you could keep the numbers relatively small (three shifts, weekend, + illness and vacation coverage).  Frequent changes of encryption key would solve the turnover problem, but again you have compromised usability.  This isn't a system you use hourly, or even daily, so people will record the key in informal "safe" storage.  On a calendar, or mouse pad, or in their iPhone.  If you want to add field observation to the mix the numbers skyrocket.  Active police and firemen?  Weather watchers?  The general public?   
 

Online vk6zgo

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #40 on: April 10, 2017, 04:36:16 am »

Similar sirens are also used in small towns across the US, primarily as a means of recalling volunteer paramedics/firefighters to the station during an emergency call.

Also in West Oz, & probably other Australian States in places that bush fires ( not "brush fires"---these are full-on "forest fires") are an ever present threat during the Summer months.

If you don't live in the town, it can scare the bejabbers out of you when they suddenly wind up.
After looking around, & not seeing any locals scurrying to the Firehouse, you know it is a test!



 

Offline aargee

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #41 on: April 10, 2017, 07:26:31 am »
In Australia we have this...http://www.emergencyalert.gov.au/images/stories/public_msg_w_tone.mp3

Transmitted on all media as an alert for all disasters. This started in my home state, Queensland, as an indicator of imminent cyclone arrival and still sends a chill up my spine. It is instantly recognisable and can be identified even under noisy conditions.
It was adopted as the national SEWS (Standard Emergency Warning Signal) Australia-wide, it's use by media is strictly regulated by disaster organisations.

Essentially it means listen/watch and find out. (how you might be in peril!!)
Not easy, not hard, just need to be incentivised.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #42 on: April 10, 2017, 09:00:36 am »
Quote
The late night sounding of emergency warning sirens in the city of Dallas, Texas, was due to a hacker being able to access and repeatedly activate the system, Dallas city officials say.

The sirens were first heard at about 11:45 p.m., and sounded on and off intermittently across the city.

"All 156 sirens in the city were activated last night," Dallas public information officer Sana Syed said. "It does appear at this time that it was a hack. We do believe that it was from the Dallas area."

Someone was able to gain access to the system and activate the sirens, city officials said.

Another lesson to learn, 911 was jammed because thousands of people rang up to ask "are we being attacked?" because of concerns about "what is going on overseas".
Wow, so the public are complete morons?
http://dallascityhall.com/departments/officeemergencymanagement/Pages/Outdoor%20Warning%20Sirens.aspx
Quote from: City of Dallas
The outdoor warning system consists of 156 sirens strategically placed throughout the City of Dallas.

Outdoor warning sirens are designed to alert people outside to go indoors for shelter and information. The sirens are not meant to be heard indoors. ?Once in a safe location, tune to local media for up to date instructions.
Just like the rest of the world, step two once emergency sirens are running is to tune into official broadcasts and find out why.
 

Online CJay

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #43 on: April 10, 2017, 09:44:05 am »
This isn't funny and is no prank. Whoever did this needs to be caught and punished. This area is known for high tornado risks. These sirens are the only way to communicate the danger to the entire population and it must both work flawlessly and be trusted.

Highly irresponsible, illegal and extremely worrying, but the system soumds badly flawed, lacking in security and poorly managed, a worthy hack if it improves the system in the long run.
 

Online CJay

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #44 on: April 10, 2017, 09:53:36 am »
Of course you are correct, but when emotion is removed there is a learning in just about anything.

I agree. These systems should be secure. It is just that we shouldn't be learning about any vulnerabilities after deployment. Once in the field, they have to work.

Technology moves on, what was secure yesterday cannot be guaranteed to be secure tomorrow, vulnerabilities and flaws are regularly found in the field and should be exposed, patched and monitored, people plug things in, make changes to configurations etc. Equipment fails in odd and not always predictable ways.

It's ridiculous position to take that systems can be/are invulnerable and flawless, especially when there's a human element involved.

 
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Offline Halcyon

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #45 on: April 10, 2017, 10:48:32 am »
Sydney has a similar system which to my understanding uses encrypted radio transmissions, similar to that used by Police. Radios can be re-keyed easily and periodically. Keys and key loaders are strictly audited and controlled.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 10:50:35 am by Halcyon »
 

Online Cerebus

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #46 on: April 10, 2017, 11:07:23 am »

Similar sirens are also used in small towns across the US, primarily as a means of recalling volunteer paramedics/firefighters to the station during an emergency call.

Also in West Oz, & probably other Australian States in places that bush fires ( not "brush fires"---these are full-on "forest fires") are an ever present threat during the Summer months.

What's the point? The wave of snakes, spiders and drop bears running away from the fire would provide you with ample warning and quite sufficient motive to run away.  :)
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 

Online vk6zgo

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #47 on: April 10, 2017, 11:26:01 am »

Similar sirens are also used in small towns across the US, primarily as a means of recalling volunteer paramedics/firefighters to the station during an emergency call.

Also in West Oz, & probably other Australian States in places that bush fires ( not "brush fires"---these are full-on "forest fires") are an ever present threat during the Summer months.

What's the point? The wave of snakes, spiders and drop bears running away from the fire would provide you with ample warning and quite sufficient motive to run away.  :)

Wildlife aren't very good at getting away from fires & often perish.

The firefighters run towards the fire.

The rest of us are supposed to be smarter than the average "drop bear", & are wise to wait to be told the safe places to run to.

 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #48 on: April 10, 2017, 12:12:21 pm »
That is super haunting.  Pretty much the sound of impeding doom.

That is why I live where the air hurts my face.  :P
It has to be, when you are dealing with something that causes this mess (near my home in Garland)

Wow, so the public are complete morons?
TBH, the absolute majority of people know exactly what to do when the sirens start - unless you just arrived to this country (like me) and thought the sound was amusing but had no idea what is was... :P

IMO to call 911 with a simple question like this is also irresponsible.

http://dallascityhall.com/departments/officeemergencymanagement/Pages/Outdoor%20Warning%20Sirens.aspx
Quote from: City of Dallas
The outdoor warning system consists of 156 sirens strategically placed throughout the City of Dallas.

Outdoor warning sirens are designed to alert people outside to go indoors for shelter and information. The sirens are not meant to be heard indoors. ?Once in a safe location, tune to local media for up to date instructions.
Just like the rest of the world, step two once emergency sirens are running is to tune into official broadcasts and find out why.
Oh, I can tell you the sirens can be heard from indoors alright, especially if you live closer to one of them (just like I did in my previous house).

TVs and radios also signal something like this:
Vbe - vídeo blog eletrônico http://videos.vbeletronico.com

Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 

Offline timb

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Hacker triggeres all 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas
« Reply #49 on: April 10, 2017, 12:14:03 pm »
You know, thinking about these sirens made me remember something from when I was a kid. (I say kid, but I was really a toddler, maybe 3 or 4 at the most.) My mom had to work, so she left me with a nice older lady who babysat a few kids during the day. Her house was right next to the town's water tower. The emergency siren was on said water tower. Said siren would go off to dispatch the volunteer fire department. Being right next to it, it was *very* loud and absolutely scared the bejesus out of me. Terrified would be a better word.

The fear is so engrained in me that when I visit my parents, who now live in another town that still uses a siren, and it goes off to alert the local fire department, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. I can hear this wailing out in the distance and I get this brief sense of dread and an incredible feeling of unease the whole time it's going. It creeps me the hell out, all because of the siren that terrorized me as a toddler.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 12:15:37 pm by timb »
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