Feeds

Brace for MORE ZOMBIE ATTACK ALERT pranks, warns security bod

Passwords left on default, kit facing the web, and worse

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Vulnerabilities in America's TV emergency alert system - exploited last week by pranksters to put out fake warnings of a zombie apocalypse - remain widespread, it is claimed. And that's after station bosses remember to change the default passwords on their broadcast equipment.

Mischievous miscreants managed to hack into a television station's emergency alert system in Montana to broadcast an on-air audio warning about the end of the world.

The attack on KRTC's equipment was repeated in other three states: two stations were electronically broken into in Michigan as well as several others in California, Montana and New Mexico, according to Karole White, president of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. "It isn't what [the pranksters] said," White said. "It is the fact that they got into the system."

It is understood the hacks were possible because the TV stations had failed to change the default passwords on kit facing the public internet. An advisory sent by regulators at the FCC to broadcasters urged IT bosses to take immediate action to correct the problem: they were told to change all passwords on equipment regardless of the manufacturer as well as make sure that kit was protected behind a firewall and that hackers had not queued up bogus alerts for later transmission.

Reuters reports that an alert controller box from Monroe Electronics had been abused to carry out at least some of the apocalypse pranks. Monroe responded by publishing an advisory on its web site:

To improve overall security all One-Net R189 users are urged to: 1. Change the factory default password immediately 2. Make sure all network connections are behind secure firewalls

Meanwhile, researchers at IOActive Labs discovered a substantial number of insecure emergency alert system devices directly connected to internet, making it possible for hackers to exploit holes in attacks that go beyond pure mischief.

Mike Davis, a hardware expert at the computer security biz, told Reuters that by using Google he was able to find 30 alert systems across the US that were vulnerable to attack. The security flaws allow attackers to remotely compromise these devices and broadcast official alerts through US radio and TV stations.

Davis discovered weak cryptography and security shortcomings in the firmware loaded into emergency warning systems. He reported the vulnerabilities to the US's Computer Emergency Response Team about a month ago but is not revealing details of the vulnerabilities nor the names of the manufacturers they affect, pending confirmation of a fix, Kaspersky Lab's Threatpost blog reports. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.