A major cyberattack recently hit Baltimore, making it the second predominantly African-American city to face a major security breach in the last week.
The city’s 911 dispatch system was hacked on Saturday morning, forcing a temporary shutdown of automated dispatching, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office confirmed to The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday. Call center support staff had to manually assist incoming 911 and 311 emergency callers. However, the Computer Aided Dispatch, or CAD, system was fully restored, with help from the FBI, by 2 a.m. on Sunday. An investigation was also launched into the breach that is ongoing, officials said.
The Baltimore breach comes just days after a ransomware attack took over computers in Atlanta on Thursday.
And just like in Atlanta, it is unknown what information was or might have been compromised in the Baltimore attack. Questions about the specific nature of the hack, apprehension of any suspects or any other possible attacks on the city’s emergency response systems in recent years went unanswered by the mayor’s office on Tuesday, the Sun reported.
What is known is that these kinds of cyberattacks can threaten the city’s ability to respond to disasters. Thus, emergency services could be slowed down in the event of major security breaches.
City government cyberattackers can use compromised mobile devices to bombard and overwhelm 911 centers. Attackers can also take control of a system and demand a ransom for its release, the exact type of attack that has been wrecking havoc on systems allowing residents to pay bills and access court documents in Atlanta.
As of now, it’s unclear what kind of specific cyberattack was carried out in Baltimore. The city’s ability to access technology to operate on a back-up system in case of another attack is also unknown.