(TNS) — San Francisco officials have been quietly scrambling since early February to patch a security vulnerability in the city’s outdoor alert system that, if left unaddressed, could have allowed hackers to seize control of the city’s network of 114 emergency sirens.
On Thursday, the Department of Technology announced that the problem had been fixed. The city says it intends to share what it learned about the issue with other city governments that rely on identical or similar outdoor siren warning systems.
“This upgrade increases the security of a piece of the public safety system in use citywide,” Linda Gerull, executive director of the Department of Technology, said in a statement.
In San Francisco, the sirens are tested every Tuesday at noon. In the event of an actual emergency, the sirens blare in 15-second intervals for five minutes.
The technology department declined to share the specifics of the vulnerability, other than to say that it had to do with how electronic signals were being encrypted as they were being relayed across the alert system.
Cities have had their emergency siren systems hacked in the past. Last year, residents of Dallas were briefly sent into a panic after all of the city’s 156 emergency sirens were activated by hackers. Local reports indicated that the sirens began bellowing at 11:40 p.m. on a Friday and didn’t relent until 1:20 a.m. the next day.
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