Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hackers break into emergency alert system, broadcast warning of zombie apocalypse

Hackers who are probably fans of "The Walking Dead" took control of the Emergency Broadcast System in Montana for a short time on Monday afternoon. Those who were watching were warned that a zombie apocalypse was taking place.

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) voiceover warning, as preceded by the standard EAS attention signal, ran Monday afternoon on CBS affiliate TV station KRTV in Great Falls, Mont. For those wondering, and more interested in daytime TV than in zombies, the EAS warning interrupted a broadcast of "The Steve Wilkos Show" which was devoted to teen-age cheaters.

The voiceover said:
Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living. Follow the messages onscreen that will be updated as information become available. Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous.

Since there was no evidence of a zombie invasion, both KRTV and authorities later released information about the hoax. KRTV said:
Someone apparently hacked into the Emergency Alert System and announced on KRTV and the CW that there was an emergency in several Montana counties. This message did not originate from KRTV, and there is no emergency. Our engineers are investigating to determine what happened and if it affected other media outlets.
Lt. Shane Sorensen of the Great Falls Police Department said:
We can report in the city, there have been no sightings of dead bodies rising from the ground.
However, there were at least some fooled, although not many. Sorensen added,
We had four calls checking to see if it was true. And then I thought, Wait. What if?
Despite the "What if?" thought, Sorensen realized that there hadn't been a run on crossbows (homage to Daryl on "The Walking Dead").

There is, though, a lot more interest in zombies what with the success of "The Walking Dead," which set records on Sunday for its mid-season return after the halfway-point break for season three.

Sorensen said it is unclear what penalties someone might face for hacking into a television station's EAS.

This seems to be the first time that someone has hacked into a station's Emergency Alert System to warn of a zombie attack. It's not the first time zombies have been hacked into electronic equipment though. At least as far back as 2009, hackers have breached roadside signs for such warnings.

They've also hacked into roadside signs to make racist comments, but that is another story entirely.

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