Security researchers have found that a DDoS attack could take down the universal 9-1-1 emergency helpline that provides the most critical services. Warnings about this type of attack have previously been issued by the Department of Homeland Security as well as the FBI.

If a DDoS attack targeted an emergency helpline service, 9-1-1’s maximum capacity to take calls would be reached and people with real emergencies could not get through. Researchers found that all it took was a smartphone infected by a particular malware that would create a botnet – an organized system of bots controlled by its creator who could continuously instruct the botnet to automatically call 9-1-1 repeatedly jamming the lines. Michael Patterson, CEO at Plixer commented below.

Michael Patterson, CEO at Plixer:

Michael Patterson“This is a particularly frightening type of DDoS and will be difficult to defend against.  A behavior monitoring solution needs to be put in place which might be able to scrub hoax 9-1-1 calls and allow legitimate calls to filter through.  It will be interesting to follow the proposed solutions for this.  A combined attack against our utilities and our emergency services could paralyze large regions of the country.”