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Pics: 911 services shut down as gov’t warns of cyber threats

Police car lights (Alexandru Cuznetov/Dreamstime/TNS)
April 18, 2024

Police officials in multiple states reported 911 service outages and interruptions Wednesday night, just hours after a cyber attack warning from the Department of Homeland Security was reported by ABC News.

According to NBC News, authorities reported 911 outages Wednesday night in multiple cities throughout Texas, Nebraska, Nevada, and South Dakota.

The Nevada State Police announced Wednesday’s 911 outage in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, warning residents, “There is a 911 outage impacting your ability to contact Emergency Services in Southern Nevada right now.” Police officials told residents to call a different number or send text messages to 911 for emergency services.

In Nevada, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reported a similar outage, warning residents that 911 calls from landlines were not working properly, while officials in Nebraska emphasized that the service provider was working to restore 911 systems that had experienced outages. Additionally, in Texas, the Kilgore Police Department told residents that the 911 system had been “intermittently down,” according to NBC News.

In addition to the 911 outages reported by law enforcement authorities in Texas, Nebraska, Nevada, and South Dakota, some reports claimed that 911 outages had also been experienced in Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, and Kentucky, according to ABC News.

Reporter Nick Sortor shared pictures of some of the 911 outage posts by law enforcement officials, tweeting, “911 systems are now being reported down in all or part of at least EIGHT STATES, including: Texas, Florida, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Wisconsin.”

Wednesday’s 911 system outages came just hours after ABC News published an article based on a federal assessment of cyber security risks that was put together by the DHS. According to a DHS bulletin from April 10, which was obtained by ABC News, the department warned that the Emergency Service Sector could potentially be exploited by cyber security attacks and could result in serious public safety threats.

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The DHS bulletin warned, “Cybercriminal exploitation of data stolen during ransomware attacks against the Emergency Service Sector (ESS) likely poses a persistent criminal threat due to the exposure and availability of victims’ personal information.”

ABC News reported that the DHS bulletin warned that cyber security attacks have “disrupted the networks of police department and 911 call center operations,” requiring emergency services “to revert to manual dispatching to sustain their operations” due to computer services being compromised.