Interesting times

Think about this for a minute. After the chill up your spine subsides make appropriate contingence plans:

The wireless provider released a statement saying that a malware attack via Twitter on Tuesday night “generated some unplanned 911 calls but 911 services and calls were not affected.”

“We are obligated by FCC regulations, as is every other wireless carrier, to notify authorities in your city if 911 services might at all be impacted, which is what we did when this problem was first detected. But this actually affected 911 nationwide and on any Apple device running iOS 10 or earlier (regardless of wireless carrier).

The malware has been disabled, but we’re advising our customers who clicked on the link to reboot their phone and update their software to 10.1. We’re also working with Apple to determine if any additional steps are needed.”

Apparently some number of malware infected iPhones repeated called 911, nationwide, in a denial of service attack on our emergency services.

Why would someone want to reduce or eliminate your ability to contact emergency services?

  1. They get a kick out of breaking things.
  2. They want to increase their odds of success in some sort of criminal/terrorist attack.

I can’t think of another reason.

Who needs a fire extinguisher or a gun? Just call 911 and you’ll be fine, right?


11 thoughts on “Interesting times

  1. Imagine just a small localized emergency and 911 services can be overwhelmed. It is not feasible to have a fleet of ambulances and police cruisers ready to handle such a disaster. You are on your own.

    Fire extinguisher, first aid, firearms, flashlights, food, water, fuel, etc are some basic items you should have for when such an event occurs. That’s not paranoia. That’s basic responsibility. Don’t expect FEMA to save your hide.

    • Exactly. Pi rule whatever length of time .gov tells you to be prepared and you’ll get a good start on what you need. If they say 3 days, you probably need more like 10 days. Anything you need till when and if the NG finally gets deployed in enough number to stabilize things.

      • Hardening our electrical power grid for solar flares and EMPs and cyber-attack shielding are not sexy enough.

        Big Brother recording every F-ing conversation you ever made to see if you might be a terrorist is Priority Number One.

        There is no disconnect with them letting thugs out of Gitmo to re-offend or using the court system to process terrorists, instead of a military tribunal which uses a firing squad. [end sarcasm]

  2. Interesting. Our local 911 system shit the bed last month. It was a failure of equipment at the main phone switch. For almost forty minutes, if you dialed 911 in our county, you would get a busy signal. They developed a work-around, but it wasn’t completely and properly restored for a day and a half.

    Folks, you need to educate yourself on alternative means of contacting emergency services. In some places (like ours) you simply need an old-fashioned seven digit number. In most cases, this will work. As a last resort, know the seven digit number of the closest sheriff’s office.

    • So…. we should have the non-emergency number in case of an emergency when the emergency number is having an emergency?

      Makes perfect sense to me. 🙂

      • Yes. But that assumes you have connectivity at all. I remember some years ago the next town over (Hollis, NH) dropped off the phone network for a day. Completely. The cause was a broken SONET cable (fiber optic backbone connection), perhaps due to a squirrel. SONET is fault tolerant, but the idiots in charge of that system had connected only one end of it, so basically as “normally” configured it already had a fault, and that one additional break became the second fault — taking the network off line. The local phone company (Hollis/Wilton Fuel Oil and Telephone Co.) didn’t even notice; it fell to the backbone provider (Verizon?) to spot the loss of signal and report it.

      • It’s a fallback, Rolf, not a permanent solution.

        911 is the further laziness of humans. How do you suppose people called the police and fire department in 1950?

        When I first started in this business we handed out phone stickers with the emergency number on it.

        • Well, yes, but nowadays 911 IS the emergency number. The police department also has a non-emergency number, but that’s not for emergencies, may not be answered, probably isn’t answered after business hours (at least in small towns). So if 911 goes out, is there actually an alternative that will work?

  3. Might be a good idea to list those phone numbers in your cell. Some cities still list their emergency number for fire/police, but not all do. (That number still exists, though.) And, it goes to the emergency operator, complete with voice recording.

    One of the problems with 911 and cell phones is that you are going through a local city office first. They may not be in the actual city/county that the problem is located in. This is especially true for CA and their CHP coverage of freeways.

    I had one incident located on a freeway, that the local city operator didn’t want to hand me off to the area CHP dispatcher as I requested. (I used to work with them. I even used the office call sign when I requested it). The result of that delay (in what turned out to be an injured biker from a hit-and-run, IIRC) had an investigator calling me back for details, before they had a meeting with the city people.

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