NetWorks Group Blog

When 911 emergency call system is struck by cyberattack

Posted by NetWorks Group on Apr 9, 2018 10:23:53 AM

When a 911 Emergency Call System Is Struck by a Cyberattack

Cyberattacks are occurring with greater frequency and they can wreck havoc in a business or an organization. When an emergency system is attacked, however, the results can be potentially life-threatening. 

When Security Systems Are Attacked

The emergency dispatch system in Baltimore suffered a devastating cyberattack in March 2018. The hack of their emergency system was a ransomware attack and the second to happen in a major city in the United States within a few weeks. For approximately 24 hours, the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system in Baltimore was shut down.
 
There have been 184 incidents of cyberattacks on local governments and public safety organizations in just the past 24 months. According to Cybersecurity Business Report, damage from cyber crimes will annually reach $6 trillion by 2021. Attacks on all types of computer systems, including emergency systems, are becoming widespread. Unfortunately, every emergency system in the country is vulnerable to these types of attacks.

Impact of Cybersecurity Breaches

When emergency centers are attacked, the health and safety of the public is immediately put into jeopardy. Not only are lives at stake, but public trust in government agencies and emergency systems deteriorates. In general, there are several impacts of a security breach.
  • Theft: Both data theft and monetary losses can occur as a result of a security breach.
  • Reputation: Losing the trust of customers, stakeholders and the public is something that can take years for a company to recover from.
  • Fines: Through various legislation, authorities may impose stiff fines for the loss of data.
Cyberattacks can cripple your organization on several levels, making prevention and management of attacks a priority.

What Can You Do to Improve Cybersecurity?

Many 911 systems throughout the country are dangerously outdated. FEMA is proposing the implementation of Next Generation System, an internet-based system that will allow callers to not only use words, but post videos and photos to help rescue workers assist them.
While new technologies like NextGen911 may eventually change the face of emergency systems, there are several practical steps you can take to improve security in your own organization. 
  • Take responsibility: A specific individual within your organization should be assigned to be responsible for cybersecurity. This would include staying informed regarding the latest laws and government recommendations.
  • Make a plan: This would include being as educated as possible on the unique risk factors that your system is vulnerable to. Prepare a step-by-step plan that entails what you would do if your system was hacked.
  • Implement threat detection: Your security company should implement a threat detection and response system that both detects cyberattacks and promptly handles them if they do occur.
  • Implement end point protection: Protecting your endpoints is critical to safeguarding your infrastructure. Ensure you have implemented a comprehensive service that defends against, detects, and facilitates response to the most advanced malware and non-malware threats.
Finally, it's necessary to make sure every employee is engaged in the process. This may include setting aside a portion of the budget for workshops and training regarding cyber safety. Providing your employees with the tools and education they need concerning security will help bring together the entire process of safeguarding your infrastructure. 

Topics: Threat Management, Information Security

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