Cybersecurity / Municipal government

Cyber breach against Baltimore’s 911 dispatch system under investigation

The breach was discovered Sunday, and forced 911 dispatchers to go into manual mode, according to city officials.

Baltimore City Hall. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

A network that helps dispatch calls in Baltimore’s 911 center fell victim to a cyber attack on Sunday.
A statement from city Chief Information Officer Frank Johnson described the attack as a “limited breach” of the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. Such systems can provide locations of 911 calls digitally, as well as other details. The system is also used for Baltimore’s 311 system.
The breach was discovered at 8:30 a.m., and the system was back online 17 hours later at 2 a.m.
During that time, the CAD system was down. However, Johnson said emergency service did not stop.
“I wish to emphasize that these critical services were not impacted nor disrupted at any time, as they were temporarily transitioned to manual mode,” the statement said. “This effectively means that instead of details of incoming callers seeking emergency support being relayed to dispatchers electronically, they were relayed by call center support staff manually.”
Staff from the Baltimore City Office of Information and Technology isolated the server where the breach occurred, and took it offline to take away the threat. Staff then investigated all network systems before bringing CAD back up.
Details on the nature of the attack or who might have been behind it were not provided by the city, as a city spokesperson said the attack is still under investigation.


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