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SCI/TECH: U. S. Emergency Alert System Vulnerable to Attack

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posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 10:45 AM
The U.S. Emergency Alert System (famous for its "This is only a test" broadcasts), the replacement for the Emergency Broadcast System, is a tool used by the government to warn the public about national emergencies. A series of independent studies have shown that the system contains some essential flaws that might allow hackers to disrupt the system or issue false alerts.

U.S. tackles Emergency Alert System insecurity
The U.S. Emergency Alert System (EAS) that lets officials instantly interrupt radio and T.V. broadcasts to provide emergency information in a crisis suffers from security holes that leave it vulnerable to denial of service attacks, and could even permit hackers to issue their own false regional alerts, federal regulators acknowledged Thursday.

"Security and encryption were not the primary design criteria when EAS was developed and initially implemented," the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wrote in a public notice launching a review of the system. "Now, however, emergency managers are becoming more aware of potential vulnerabilities within the system. For example, the complete EAS protocol is a matter of public record and potentially subject to malicious activations or interference."

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

A disruption of the system would not have as dramatic an effect as it would have in an era before 24 hour continuous news coverage, email alerts, and RSS news. But, with the current atmosphere of unease and uncertainty in the U.S. due to reports of terrorist plots, intercepted “electronic chatter” and color-coded threat levels, coupled with the fact that the systems has never actually been used to issue a real alert, the amount of chaos that a false alert could create is difficult to assess.

"Research into the behavior of warning recipients suggests that a single false alarm, without corroboration from other credible sources, generally elicits only limited reaction from the public." – FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein

Related News Links
The Register
FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein

Related ATS Discussions
ATS: Peculiar Activity with Emergency Notification System
Strange Emergency Message On TV Last Night

posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 12:00 PM
Good article and post Spectre

I had heard of the alert system before, although i have not seen it being used in action before.

the flaw which exists allowing hackers the possibilty to issue false alerts could have huge effects i would have thought? e.g a message coming over the screen saying such and such has happened and there the chance its gonna become gossip and it only takes a few to believe it so it can spread and spread.

wonder if its ever been hacked before to broadcast false information?


posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 12:35 PM
Maybe this could be the source of Skadi's "Civil Authority" message that has appeared a number of times in her area.

Since the EAS wasn't designed with security in mind to begin with, I would wager that it will take longer to fix it and put it in then if it had been done right the first time.

posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 11:21 PM
I'm sitting here with a cable alert on all channels for 20 minutes now. Will this be the new standard in alerts? The screen is pink with white text.

Adelphia Cable Cape Cod MA


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