Texas city blames hackers after emergency sirens blare for nearly an hour in middle of night
- Written by KASSIDY VAVRA KASSIDY VAVRA
- Published: 12 March 2019 12 March 2019
DeSoto, Lancaster, TX - Residents in the Texas towns of DeSoto and Lancaster were awakened by blaring emergency sirens early Tuesday — and kept up for nearly an hour — after the system was hacked, officials said.
“After consulting with the technical experts who help us to operate the outdoor emergency sirens in our area, and based on the widespread impact to these sirens, it appears that DeSoto’s outdoor warning siren system was hacked at approximately 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning,” a statement read Tuesday night. “This action appears to have been intentional and the city’s outdoor warning siren system is not operational at this time. Therefore we have turned this matter over to the police departments from the impacted cities for investigation.”
Residents of both towns tweeted about the rude awakening when the blaring first began.
“Why are the tornado sirens going off in Lancaster!?” one resident tweeted.
“Why do we have a false tornado siren going off in Lancaster Tx? Smh Thanks Lancaster for waking us all up at 2:30 a.m.,” another complained.
Residents in the towns of DeSoto and Lancaster, Texas were woken up by blaring emergency sirens in the early hours of the morning — and kept up for nearly an hour — due to a malfunction on Tuesday. The town's mayor blamed hackers for the intrusion.
Both the City of DeSoto and Lancaster took to social media to alert residents there was no emergency to worry about.
“The Emergency Outdoor Warning Sirens have malfunctioned and there is No Emergency. We are working to resolve the concern and apologize for the inconvenience,” the City of Lancaster, TX shared on Facebook.
The city shared a similar message on the town’s NextDoor page.
The City of Desoto tweeted about the malfunction around 25 minutes after the sirens began.
“Please disregard the Emergency Sirens that you hear going off in some parts of the Best Southwest Cities around 2:30AM Tuesday. This is the result of a malfunction and NOT an Emergency. We are working to correct the problem. Apologies for the inconvenience,” the City of DeSoto tweeted.
Residents’ initial concern, however, quickly turned into anger.
“Thank God. My family has been up for an hour. Im so tired and can't sleep through the noise. I even called the police wondering if something was happening where we needed to jump in the car,” one user commented on the City of Lancaster’s post.
Others groused the apology didn’t begin to make up for the lost sleep.
“Disregard? Like if it’s that easy to ignore it,” one user responded to the City of DeSoto.
The DeSoto Police Department also shared a message on Facebook, saying cops had fielded several calls expressing concern over the blaring sirens.
“Good morning all. We have received quite a few calls about the tornado sirens that were activated this morning. This was the result of a malfunction in the system and is currently being investigated as to the cause. There is no emergency at this time. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused and appreciate all of your concern. Thank you!” a post from DeSoto police read.
According to a thread from the City of Lancaster, teams were dispatched to each individual siren “to manually shut it off.”
Around an hour after the sirens began to blare, the City of DeSoto tweeted the blaring had stopped.
“DeSoto has been working with officials from neighboring cities to address the malfunctioning sirens. Hopefully, by now they are all quiet. We also sent out a Code Red notification letting people know that this was the result of a malfunction and is NOT an actual emergency.”
In the aftermath, however, some residents were concerned about the integrity of the alarm system.
“Please update the city's emergency communication plan to include updating all channels as fast as possible. We need to know quickly (in minutes or seconds) if a tornado is actually coming, or if it's a false alarm,” one user commented to the City of Lancaster.
Source: New York Daily News