The siren call of infrastructure hacking

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The siren call of infrastructure hackingAlarm bells are ringing in Dallas over a recent hack – literally. Infrastructure hacks are becoming more common in the US and can take many forms, but in this case hackers, whose identity and motivation remains unknown, set off all 156 Dallas emergency sirens late one recent night – a sound normally reserved for tornados and other emergencies.

The system uses radio communication rather than the Internet, so the attackers either managed to manipulate the radio communication or gain control privileges. To achieve this they would have needed radio frequencies, code formats and specific five to eight-digit codes.

While loss of sleep and jamming of the city’s emergency response lines were the only consequences of this attack, the incident does highlight a growing trend in infrastructure hacks – and the potential to compromise more serious targets such as water and sewage systems, power plants and motorway controls.