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Several models of Emergency Alert System decoders, used to break into TV and radio broadcasts to announce public safety warnings, have vulnerabilities that would allow hackers to hijack them and deliver fake messages to the public, according to an announcement by a security firm on Monday.
The vulnerabilities included a private root SSH key that was distributed in publicly available firmware images that would have allowed an attacker with SSH access to a device to log in with root privileges and issue fake alerts or disable the system. IOActive principal research scientist Mike Davis uncovered the vulnerabilities in the application servers of two digital alerting systems known as DASDEC-I and DASDEC-II. Davis indicated that to resolve the issue would require “re-engineering” of the digital alerting system side as well as firmware updates pushed out to appliances in the field. These included default administrative passwords that customers were forgetting to change after installing the systems. Earlier this year hackers used default credentials to break into the Emergency Alert System at local TV station KRTV in Montana to interrupt programming with an alert about a zombie apocalypse.
During an afternoon broadcast of the Steve Wilkos talk show, a loud buzzer sounded and a banner ran across the top of the screen as an announcer’s voice warned viewers that the zombie apocalypse was upon them.
A spokesman for IOActive said that his group released the announcement today only after working with CERT to notify the vendors first and give them time to notify customers and work on fixes. EAS is a descendant of the Emergency Broadcast System established in the 1960s during President John F. Last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency also launched a wireless alert system that delivers text alerts to mobile phones that are compatible with the wireless alert system. The wireless text alerts were used to warn Oklahoma residents during recent tornadoes as well as during the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt to tell residents to remain indoors. China has passed controversial new anti-terrorism laws, saying they are needed to combat growing threats. I have been waiting for this test to take place for weeks on end.  I went out this morning and borrowed a video recorder to record the event as it happened.
After all, this first test could have been a disaster or it could have been a total non-event.  I have to rate the event itself as appearing, on the surface at first, a normal, run of the mill monthly local Emergency Broadcast System test, just only a little larger.


As you can see from the video, the federal government flipped the switch and after a little local blurb with a red background saying Emergency Alert System and a stutter of another video channel, the screen turned to black with white lettering.  NATIONAL ALERT jumped at the top of the screen with EMERGENCY ACTION NOTIFICATION at the bottom of the screen. During this time a voice attempted to reassure everyone that this was a test, “only a test.”  The whole thing took almost exactly a minute from start to finish. Since this originated from the Federal Government (probably in some secret, atomic blast hardened room at an undisclosed location) I was going to do some channel surfing and do a report on the propagation delay between channels since all television and radio systems have this message inserted at the station.  I was in for a surprise.
The remote control for the Comcast box was inoperable and nothing could change the channel.  A bright EAS was displayed where the channel number should have been. The federal government not only replaced the broadcast stations’ content with their own, but had also inserted their content into all the local providers and aggregators.  This does not bode well in my mind.
Do you realize what this means?  Our government has just taken control of every distribution point of our video broadcast network. The United States government has just demonstrated they now have the power to black out all the video communications any time they wish or just replace the content.  I grew up in the 1950’s when there was a fear of nuclear attack, especially when there were missiles in Cuban silos that were armed with nuclear bombs, so I can understand the need for an alert system. The only place you had private was when it got dark.  Today the cameras can see in the dark. Fred, did you happen to compare this to over the air (antenna) broadcasts as well as satellite providers?
Comcast receives the alerts and does insert them up front and their cable box does go into a mode that only makes the warning available; all the rest of the programming is blocked. Have anything worth reading and writing about it, then why not send us an email to give us more details.
We can't promise that everything we get will be on the top page of DeviceMAG, but we can assure you that we'll read all emails. With a passion for everything that gets geeks high we’re here to feed you with the latest news. They’re delivered to phones with a distinctively jarring tone and vibration to distinguish them from regular text messages and advise recipients to tune in to their local radio and television to get more information.


Which in fact means that the severest and most dire of emergencies are, for all intents and purposes concerning the emergency broadcast system, utterly indistinguishable from a state of no emergency at all. Taken in this light, the sounding of the tone over your radio or television system should be regarded as a sign that, whatever is happening, the means to deal with it are still fully in place and operational. It’s used to alert the public about weather emergencies, disasters and Amber alerts and is also available to the President of the United States to break into programming to announce a national crisis. The sound of the tone means that you need only stay at home, and listen to the instructions on your radio or television set. Here at DeviceMAG we take technology very serious, no matter if it’s a small gadget or a new device on the market. Initially, the system was designed so that alerts passed from station to station via the wire services of the Associated Press and United Press International, but it now transmits through analog and digital systems.
The only time when things may not be okay is when you cannot hear the tone and follow the instructions, so it is therefore advisable that you leave your radio or television set on at all times. Because, in the end, there really is no better guarantee of your personal safety than hearing the tone and following the instructions. You must stay here alone until you can hear nothing and see nothing but the colors and the changing shapes. You will always see colors and shapes and they will always be changing, no matter what you do.



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Comments to “Emergency broadcast system sacramento”

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