Bogus zombie apocalypse warnings undermine US emergency alert system

Don't worry: today remains V-Day and not Z-Day. On Monday, hackers were responsible for broadcasting bogus emergency messages warning TV viewers of an imminent zombie invasion. It's a series of intrusions that underscore the vulnerability of the nation's public warning system.

"Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from the grave and attacking the living," stated one warning broadcast over KRTV in Great Falls, Montana, according to Reuters. It went on to warn viewers not "to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are extremely dangerous."

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the hacks, which were also perpetrated on Emergency Alert System devices used by stations in Michigan, California, Tennessee, and New Mexico. But Mike Davis, a hardware security expert and principal research scientist at security firm IOActive, told reporters he recently found a variety of weaknesses in some of the machines used to receive emergency messages and then automatically interrupt regular programming to broadcast them over the air. Weaknesses included devices that still used default passwords that are listed in user manuals hosted online and authentication bypass vulnerabilities that allow hackers to log in even when they don't have a password.

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