Recently the FBI released a warning in cooperation with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov) that documented the risks behind Telephony DDoS attacks. These types of attacks are essentially used to jam up phone lines so no more calls can be made or received. It is obvious why it may be dangerous when this type of attack targets emergency services. A matter of seconds can be all it takes to make a difference in some situations when life saving measures are needed, and if phone lines are jammed up, this could result in the injury or death of someone in need of help. This is not the first time the FBI and IC3 have warned of these attacks as they released a similar warning back in 2013. Attackers can use software tools that make it very easy to carry out these attacks, meaning not much skill is needed on the part of an attacker. Unfortunately, these types of attacks are also hard to detect due to the bad actors spoofing their numbers on every call.
Turning down calls when working at an emergency service would be extremely difficult. It would be just as difficult to be on the other end and need help from 911 and it is not available. Included below are the FBI’s recommendations on how to deal with 911 outages:
• Before there is an emergency, contact your local emergency services authorities for information on how to request service in the event of a 911 outage. Find out if text-to-911 is available in your area.
• Have non-emergency contact numbers for fire, rescue, and law enforcement readily available in the event of a 911 outage.
• Sign up for automated notifications from your locality if available to be informed of emergency situations in your area via text, phone call, or email.
• Identify websites and follow social media for emergency responders in your area for awareness of emergency situations.