BOSTON (WHDH) - A firewall designed to protect the state’s 911 system against cyberattacks and hacking was to blame for a 911 outage impacting emergency agencies across Massachusetts Tuesday, officials announced. 

Citing a preliminary investigation, officials said the firewall stopped calls from getting to individual dispatch centers. After an internal review by the state’s third-party 911 vendor, officials said, experts confirmed the outage was not the result of a cyberattack or hack. 

The outage started early Tuesday afternoon and prompted alerts from individual police, fire and EMS departments warning members of the public about the issue. Officials urged people in need to contact agencies directly. 

Many cell phones received emergency alerts sharing a similar message.

In Boston, officials said members of the public could also pull fire alarm call boxes on city street corners in case of emergency. 

The state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security in a statement near 3:45 p.m. said the 911 system had been restored. 

“The public may now resume calling 911 for emergencies,” officials said. 

In an update late Wednesday morning, the office of public safety and security said officials learned of the outage at 1:15 p.m. Officials said the outage lasted roughly two hours before the system was once again operational at 3:15 p.m.

Though some calls did not go through, officials said 911 systems allowed dispatchers to identify callers’ phone numbers and return calls. 

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security said it “has not received any reports of emergencies impacted during the interruption.”

City officials in Boston on Tuesday said they were in touch with state authorities regarding the outage. 

The Executive Office of Public Safety on Wednesday said the State 911 Department “moved immediately to address the disruption,” reaching out to its 911 vendor and alerting individual law enforcement departments. Officials also contacted the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to issue a statewide emergency alert.

While officials pinned the cause of the outage on the firewall and ruled out a cyberattack, the Executive Office of Public Safety said “the exact reason the firewall stopped calls from reaching dispatch centers remains under review.”

Officials said a full review of the incident was ongoing and said their vendor, Comtech, “has advised State 911 that they have applied a technical solution to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Officials went on to thank members of the public for their patience and cooperation and thanked local emergency responders for their efforts Tuesday. 

“The Massachusetts State 911 Department is deeply committed to providing reliable, state-of-the-art 911 services to all Massachusetts residents and visitors in an emergency,” said Executive Director of the State 911 Department Frank Pozniak. “The Department will take all necessary steps to prevent a future occurrence.” 

Speaking with 7NEWS before Wednesday’s update, telecommunications expert Ben Levitan said it was highly unlikely that the outage was caused by anything deliberate, such as a cyberattack, since phone systems are difficult to breach. 

“If there’s an intrusion in the phone system, it would be known well before you got all the way to the selective router,” he said. 

Levitan said Tuesday’s outage presented an extremely dangerous situation with no backup system or automatic default in place. 

Nevertheless, he said officials did the right thing by telling people to directly dial local authorities. 

The State 911 Department oversees and maintains the 911 system for emergency services in Massachusetts.

Despite Massachusetts’ issues, officials in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York and Vermont said their 911 systems were not impacted.

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