An 18-year-old was arrested last week after carrying out a cyberattack on the Maricopa County 9-1-1 system. The man posted a link in Twitter which supposedly directed people to a site called “Meet Desai.” However, when people clicked the link it would continually call 9-1-1 and not let the caller hang up. Law enforcement found him quickly using the GPS on his phone, arrested him in class, and confiscated his electronics. (News Article)
The accused said he was on the trail of bugs and viruses that he could change and manipulate. Once he manipulated this one, he set it to call 1+911. He claims he created this to basically make a name for himself in the programming and hacker world, and with the hopes Apple would pay him for finding bugs. He said during questioning the bug was meant to be “funny” and claims its release was accidental. He now faces three felony counts of computer tampering.
The volume of calls could have shut down the 9-1-1 system but didn’t and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Cyber Crimes Division was able to shut down the application, ending the threat. For now. With a subsection of hackers potentially looking for bugs, programs, and viruses they can either alter or “piggyback” other applications or programs on to, it is anyone’s guess what the next one will look like. Hopefully this particular bug has been patched by now.
In the meantime, this incident serves as yet another reason to work on your agency’s response plan for cyberattacks. Here are some related resources, and remember to always report an attack.
- Best Practices Checklist for Denial of Service Attacks Against 9-1-1 Centers
- Law Enforcement Cyber Center
- Stop. Think. Connect. Law Enforcement Resources
- Cyber Training for Law Enforcement Call to Action