Bucks County Cybersecurity Incident Disrupts Computer-Aided Dispatch System

Written by Mitchell Langley

January 26, 2024

Bucks County Cybersecurity Incident Affects Computer-Aided Dispatch System

Bucks County Cybersecurity Incident impacted the county’s computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system leading to suspension of 911 call automation.

Authorities in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, have reported a “cybersecurity incident” that has impacted the county’s computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system since Sunday. As a result, certain automated capabilities linked to 911 calls have been temporarily disabled.

County officials have confirmed that despite the Bucks County ransomware attack impacting the CAD system, the phone and radio systems continue to operate without disruption.

Bucks County Cybersecurity Incident Affects Bucks County Dispatch System

“All calls for service from the public are being received and dispatched to first responders without delay. All incidents are being documented using a backup system,”

Tells a message from the county.

At present, no specific timeline has been provided for the restoration of the Bucks Co. emergency dispatch system. The county is collaborating with state and federal agencies to conduct a thorough investigation into the Bucks County Cyberattack.

What is a Computer-Aided Dispatch System?

As per the Department of Homeland Security, CAD systems are essential tools used by dispatchers, call takers, and 911 operators. These systems prioritize and log incident calls, identify the current status and whereabouts of responders in the field, and facilitate efficient dispatching of personnel.

Meanwhile, the county’s IT department is diligently assessing the issue and making efforts to reinstate the service. 

As a temporary measure, the county has disconnected from both the Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network (CLEAN) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) databases.

“We are requesting that radio communication be kept to essential transmissions only. We cannot field requests for incident times and suggest that responders attempt to maintain their times as best they can,”

The message to chiefs stated.

According to Versaterm, the tech company responsible for Bucks County’s CAD system, the county relies on their services for police, fire, and EMS operations. CBS News Philadelphia attempted to contact Versaterm for further information but has not received a response.

This incident occurred following the recent renovation of the county’s emergency operation center, which included enhancements to its security systems.

Cybersecurity expert Curtis Fechner emphasized the importance of emergency agencies having contingency plans in place to mitigate the impact of such compromises.

“Any kind of public safety agencies or anybody who is charged with handling 911 dispatch or something like that, they are going to understand how critical their job is and they are going to have contingency plans so they don’t have to depend on their modern technologies,”

Fechner, technical director of incident response and threat intelligence at Optiv.

In addition to the disruption in the dispatch system, county officials have informed that the state has temporarily suspended access to criminal records data, as well as driver’s license and motor vehicle information.

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