A cyber-attack reportedly set off all 156 emergency sirens across the city of Dallas, Texas, late Friday night.
According to reports, the sirens were activated more than a dozen times between approximately 11:45 p.m. and 1:20 a.m. on Saturday until engineers manually shut down the sirens’ radio system and repeaters.
Dallas’ siren warning system is used to warn citizens of tornadoes and other imminent severe weather.
“At this point, we can tell you with a good deal of confidence that this was somebody outside of our system that got in there and activated our sirens,” city Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz told reporters.
“This is a very, very rare event,” added Vaz, while describing the cyber-attack as one of the largest ever to affect emergency siren systems, with most breaches of this kind triggering one or two alarms.
System engineers are investigating the incident and the Federal Communications Commission has been contacted, said Vaz.
City spokeswoman Sana Syed said the breach in the city of 1.6 million people is believed to have originated in the area.
“We understand that people were concerned,” said Syed. “We had people asking if we were being attacked because of what’s going on overseas.”
Meanwhile, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings assured authorities will “find and prosecute whomever is responsible.”
“This is yet another serious example of the need for us to upgrade and better safeguard our city’s technology infrastructure. It’s a costly proposition, which is why every dollar of taxpayer money must be spent with critical needs such as this in mind. Making the necessary improvements is imperative for the safety of our citizens,” said Rawlings.