MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – After a recent incident in Dallas, where someone hacked into more than 150 tornado sirens and sent them blaring for nearly two hours without any tornadoes in sight, cities across the metro are looking at their own sirens.
One city even admits to being vulnerable.
“We don’t feel like our system would be any better protected than the one in Dallas. We do have some concerns about that,” said Midwest City Emergency Management Director Mike Bower.
Bower said the sirens in his city are activated by the push of a button by emergency personnel.
They are only used when danger is imminent.
But, how could the vital system be hacked?
“It’s a radio signal that we’re sending out to the sirens, and that’s what, as I understand it, that’s how they’re hacking it,” Bower said. “They’re copying a radio signal and using that to set the sirens off.”
The city’s siren system is nearly 20 years old, and even the thought of it being hacked has people in the area on edge.
“That’s really scary to me, because that kind of compromises all of our safety, and it makes me really worried,” said Brittany Chavez. “I’m not an Oklahoma native, so I’m not used to storms and severe weather like that.”
Even kids don’t like it.
“It would be kind of rude, and I think people should be honest and not be joking around, because it’s not funny,” said 9-year-old Hayley Goodwin.
Bower said the city is hoping to upgrade the emergency siren system in the near future and he’s trying to find ways to make things more secure.
But, in the meantime, a false alarm would be a true problem.
“If you’re hacking sirens, you’re going to have the cry wolf results, and people are not going to respond to them if sirens are going off all the time,” Bower said.
Bower said the cost to upgrade the city’s siren system is around $430,000.
We reached out to the city of Oklahoma City but were told they didn’t want to discuss their siren system for security reasons.
The city of Moore said it’s system is up to date but security is being reviewed.