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J Med Internet Res. 2019 Jul 9;21(7):e14383. doi: 10.2196/14383.

Hacking 9-1-1: Infrastructure Vulnerabilities and Attack Vectors.

Author information

1
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate, Springfield, MA, United States.
2
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States.
3
Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA, United States.

Abstract

9-1-1 call centers are a critical component of prehospital care: they accept emergency calls, dispatch field responders such as emergency medical services, and provide callers with emergency medical instructions before their arrival. The aim of this study was to describe the technical structure of the 9-1-1 call-taking system and to describe its vulnerabilities that could lead to compromised patient care. 9-1-1 calls answered from mobile phones and landlines use a variety of technologies to provide information about caller location and other information. These interconnected technologies create potential cyber vulnerabilities. A variety of attacks could be carried out on 9-1-1 infrastructure to various ends. Attackers could target individuals, groups, or entire municipalities. These attacks could result in anything from a nuisance to increased loss of life in a physical attack to worse overall outcomes owing to delays in care for time-sensitive conditions. Evolving 9-1-1 systems are increasingly connected and dependent on network technology. As implications of cybersecurity vulnerabilities loom large, future research should examine methods of hardening the 9-1-1 system against attack.

KEYWORDS:

cybersecurity; emergency medical dispatch; emergency medical service communication systems; emergency medical services

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