Feeds

Montana TV warns of ZOMBIE ATTACK in epic prank hack

Cops: 'Wait. What if ... ?'

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Pranksters managed to hack a TV emergency alert system in Montana on Monday to broadcast an on-air audio warning about the supposed start of a zombie apocalypse.

Viewers of Great Falls, Montana, television station KRTC watching a Jerry Springer-style show (specifically the Teen Cheaters Take Lie Detectors segment of The Steve Wilkos Show) had their ears assaulted by an on-air warning that "bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living". The video of two teenagers squaring up to each other was not interrupted but audio of their argument was replaced by the following brief, but chilling, message. The alert also featured a scrolling warning at the top of the screen naming various Montana counties as targets for the spoof announcement of doom.

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 becomes available. Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous.

A slightly longer statement along the same lines was broadcast by another KRTC channel, interrupting a commercial break at the end of a weather report, as recorded by a YouTube clip here. Viewers of this clip were instructed to tune into 920AM on their battery-powered radio if electricity supplies became interrupted.

KRTV quickly repudiated the statement and launched an investigation into the incidents, which it blames on as yet unidentified hackers.

"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," the CBS affiliate station said in a short statement on the incident.

"Our engineers are investigating to determine what happened and if it affected other media outlets."

A brief video clip featuring the warning is embedded in a story by local paper The Great Falls Tribune about the incident, which it reports "prompted quite a few confused phone calls [to police on] Monday afternoon". Local police have yet to be called in to investigate the incident, the paper adds

"We had four calls checking to see if it was true. And then I thought, 'Wait. What if?'” Lt. Shane Sorensen with the Great Falls Police Department told the paper. “We can report in the city, there have been no sightings of dead bodies rising from the ground.”

US Motorway signs have been hacked to warn of "zombies ahead" and similar incidents before but the epic KRTV hack takes this to another level. El Reg's security desk has considered that it might be an elaborate promo for the current movie Warm Bodies or for the premiere of the second half of the third season of The Walking Dead, which arrived on US TV screens on Sunday. The zombie show drew a series best of 12.3 million US viewers at the weekend. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.