Attackers could acutely disrupt America’s 911 system, a new report suggests. A botnet of 400,000 adulterated phones could basically attenuate 911 nationwide. All the adulterated phones would have to do is call 911, constantly, and eventually wait times would get so bad most people with accepted emergencies would hang up rather than wait.

Emergency phone casework don’t currently have a banish system, acceptation that if a phone calls 911 consistently there’s no way for emergency casework to block that caller. In a way, this makes sense: you don’t want to cut anyone off from an capital service, and people with adulterated phones could still need 911 for real someday. But this simple fact makes the 911 system vulnerable, which is a problem.

A paper from the Ben-Gurion Univerisity of the Negev outlines the sceneario:

In 2015 over 90% of American adults owned a cell phone, and 64% of the accessories were smartphones. An antagonist that recruits even a atom of these accessories to a botnet would give
this antagonist has the abeyant to deny 911 casework to an entire state, or possibly the entire country.

The report makes clear the importance of mobile security. Adulterated phones don’t just put alone users at risk: they potentially abuse the safety of an entire state, or even country.

And if attackers only want to attenuate 911 in a single state, it’s even easier. 6,000 phones is enough to take out emergency casework in a state like North Carolina.

The paper outlines a few ways to make such attacks less likely. The first is for 911 casework to stop accepting calls from cell phones that don’t have a phone plan associated with them, though this could harm people who rely on such phones for emergencies. Another plan is to apparatus systems that detect humans, though the stakes for false positives here would be really high, so it’s capital the system be flawless. Other options accommodate making a blocklist of callers, or for police to round up and seize adulterated phones. You can see why none of these plans would be easy to implement, or accepted politically.

Meanwhile most Android users are active an age-old adaptation of their operating system because carriers don’t abutment phones for longer than a year or two. If addition wants to cause trouble, that’s a wide open gate. Addition needs to start cerebration about this.