Emergency sirens caused panic amongst residents in Lancaster and DeSoto last week when hackers breached the systems.
It was a terrifying early hour of the morning for residents in two Texan towns as they heard the siren. The people in Lancaster and DeSoto woke up suddenly around 2:30 am to believe a tornado was about to happen. The sirens kept sounding until 4: am when crews successfully turned them off.
The two Tornado Alley towns have a high record of tornado attacks. As such, they built the sirens as a part of their safety precautions that warns people of imminent danger. Whenever the alerts go off, everybody takes cover to protect themselves against the attack. However, this was not the case on March 12th.
That day, the sirens went off because some unscrupulous elements hacked the systems to set them off. There were a total of 30 sirens going off that morning with twenty in Lancaster and ten in DeSoto. From what the town officials said, the systems never suffered any malfunction. According to them someone or a group of people triggered them intentionally.
After determining that hackers tampered with the systems, the officials turned the incident over to the police departments. The joint efforts by the police departments in Lancaster and DeSoto we hope will yield good results.
However, the officials in Lancaster has warned that the culprits will face arrest & prosecution. According to them, sabotaging such a system that warns the public against danger is hostile and also a criminal act. Meanwhile, the cities removed the compromised systems online , and they were still offline as at Monday, 17th March.
Although the hackers blew the false alarms, it is still fortunate that until now, the city hasn’t experienced any storm. Also, many announcements have gone off in warning against tornadoes and storms all through the week, but none has come. A night after the false alerts, a terrible thunderstorm hit the cities, but there was no tornado. It was fortunate indeed because the residents would have been in the dark. The reason is that the systems were offline by then although the backup systems were available.
The officials of DeSoto, however, implored the residents in the town to register for the “Code Red emergency weather warning system.” They also promised to restore the siren system and assist in the ongoing investigations. Lancaster official stated that they would rely on the Code red systems, social media and their city website for communications.
To say that Texans are used to these sort of hacks causing panic in the state is not an understatement. Last year in April, almost 156 weather sirens went off in Dallas before midnight. The alarms blared for over one hour before they stopped. Well, the city spent months getting them ready to use again.
Other places such as Hawaii has seen their share of false alarm. In January this year, people ran for their lives when a false missile alert went off. It was such a terrible day for the residents. Japan also experienced a similar incident when the missile alert went off warning people of North Korea’s missile attack.
On the tornado alarm last week, residents tweeted that the people behind it are not humans.