Hackers target Indianapolis 911 center

Hackers breached the city's 911 system in December.

Computer hackers accessed the emergency 911 system that dispatches all police, fire and EMS vehicles across Indianapolis. The attack started December 20 and lasted several days. It was only made public during a speech Tuesday afternoon.

"We haven't said this because we wanted the investigation to continue, but we had our own cyberattack against our public safety communications systems," said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

Officials say the attack slowed the system down, but since there is a redundant computer network, public safety was never compromised.

"I'm not going to go into our behind the scenes operations," said Riggs, "but because of our redundancies and the close work with the sheriff's office, we were able to continue to dispatch vehicles on time it did not affect that but it could have."

The director of public safety acknowledged this could happen again. In his opinion, cyberattacks are the number one safety threat to businesses and government in the United States.

"Municipalities are under attack all the time," explained Jonathan (J.J.) Thompson, CEO of Indianapolis-based Rook Security, which identifies and thwarts cyberattacks for clients around the world.

In Indianapolis, he says, hackers could have entered the city's system directly or gained access by way of an individual computer.

"It may be an effort to attack and then stay inside the network and be able to monitor how police are responding to an incident. Or to plan ahead to be able to avoid police activity. So there's a lot of things that could be scary about that," Thompson said.

City officials say they quickly identified the cyber breech and then took steps to stop it.

"That's what they're doing right now is they're making sure that any of the holes that were identified by the attackers have been patched and that everything is safe again," said Thompson.

Safe for first responders to operate in a secure network knowing that lessons need to be learned in case there's another cyberattack.

The Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security and FBI continue to investigate the breach.

Indianapolis Department of Public Safety