© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WBFO brings you NPR's live coverage of the Republican National Convention tonight from 9pm-11pm.

Concerns raised over cyber attacks against 911 systems

WBFO News file photo

A recent study revealed that 9-1-1 call centers are vulnerable to cyber attacks. That drew a call from New York Senator Charles Schumer for new measures to protect the critical infrastructure. 

With nearly 80 percent of all 9-1-1 calls now coming from mobile devices, Schumer says there is growing concern because hackers and cyber terrorists can take control of cell phones to bring down call centers.

"If the 911 systems go out and you need an ambulance or there's a fire imagine what will happen."

Hackers can infect phones to automatically make fake calls without the owner's knowledge. That has prompted an examination of some of the nation's emergency call centers. It's believed it would only take 6,000 hacked devices to bring down the entire 9-1-1 system in North Carolina.

"Our 9-1-1 call centers around the country are often understaffed and operating at near capacity under the most normal of conditions. So when the volume of calls increases even by a small percentage they can be overwhelmed quickly," said Schumer is calling on the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission to address the situation.

"It's just a matter of time before some hacker is going to try to do this. And you all know the consequences even if in one part of our state or our country the 9-1-1 system goes down."