Hackers took down Baltimore 911 system during the weekend

Pierluigi Paganini March 29, 2018

Another US city hit by hackers, over the weekend, a cyber attack took down part of Baltimore 911 system for seventeen hours.

Part of its 911 service at the US city of Baltimore was taken down during the weekend by a cyber attack. The attackers targeted a specific server and took down the CAD system from 8.30am Saturday until around 2 am Sunday.

“Baltimore’s 911 dispatch system was hacked by an unknown actor or actors over the weekend, prompting a temporary shutdown of automated dispatching and an investigation into the breach, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office confirmed Tuesday.” reported the Baltimore Sun.

“James Bentley, a spokesman for Pugh, confirmed that the Sunday morning hack affected messaging functions within the computer-aided dispatch, or CAD, system, but said the mayor would not otherwise comment on the matter Tuesday.”


The cyber attack shut down the emergency service’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) that is used by 911 operators. No systems beyond the one CAD server were hit in the cyber attack, according to the media no data was exposed.

The function of the 911 service is essential to respond to any emergency and to direct police, fire, and ambulance to the place of an emergency.

During the attack, the 911 operators were forced to manually dispatch responders. 911 and 311 “were temporarily transitioned to manual mode.”

The attack was launched while thousands of protesters were participating in the nationwide march against gun violence.

City personnel were able to “isolate and take offline the affected server, thus mitigating the threat” of the hack, said Frank Johnson, chief information officer in the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology.

No systems beyond the one CAD server were hit by the cyber attack, and no data was exposed or stolen.

A few days ago, the networks of another major US city, Atlanta, were infected with a variant of the SamSam ransomware.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Baltimore, hacking)

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