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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.
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The US Emergency Alert System, which interrupts live TV and radio broadcasts with information about national emergencies in progress, is vulnerable to attacks that allow hackers to remotely disseminate bogus reports and tamper with gear, security researchers warned.
The remote takeover vulnerability, which was fixed in an update issued in April, affected the DASDEC-I and DASDEC-II application servers made by a company called Digital Alert Systems. Other advisories warning of the vulnerability were published here and here by the Industry Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team and the US CERT.
The warnings come five months after hackers took over the emergency alert system of a Montana TV station and broadcast a bogus emergency bulletin warning TV viewers of an imminent zombie apocalypse.

The Emergency Alerting System is designed to enable the US president to deliver speeches to the entire country within 10 minutes of a disaster occurring.
Update on July 12, 2013: A Monroe Electronics representative said the vulnerability played no role in the bogus Zombie apocalypse warnings. Ars takes you behind the scenes of making "On the Brink of Famine", a virtual reality documentary filmed in South Sudan. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Conde Nast. Emergency Warning Triangles and Traffic Triangles – We supply you with these great promotional Emergency Warning Triangles. Voice Broadcast Alerts: An efficient and effective solution in the event of an emergency  In the event of an emergency, it may be necessary to reach thousands quickly and efficiently. For any business, in any industry, looking for a method of mass message delivery, using a Web-based voice broadcast emergency alert dialer provides a powerful tool to generate thousands of calls to clients, customers or prospects, or create customizable messages to be delivered to specific individuals.
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. It stems from a recent firmware update that mistakenly included the private secure shell (SSH) key, according to an advisory published Monday by researchers from security firm IOActive.
The US CERT advisory, which also warns against vulnerabilities in the One-Net E189 Emergency Alert System device sold by Digital Alert Systems' parent company Monroe Electronics, was published two weeks ago.
Devices used by stations in Michigan, California, Tennessee, and New Mexico were also reportedly commandeered.
Application servers such as the DASDEC-I and DASDEC-II interrupt regular programming broadcast by TV and radio stations and relay an emergency message, which is preceded and followed by alert tones.
The representative also said he was "pretty sure" no Tennessee stations were affected by the fake warnings.
Emergency Alert Dialer or Voice Broadcast is able to tackle through the traffic and quickly deliver emergency notifications.
The voice broadcast emergency alert dialer is perfect for any business wanting to leave pre-recorded information with the party that answers the phone or on answering machines. 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.

Administrators use such keys to remotely log in to a server to gain unfettered "root" access. In addition to tampering with the delivery of legitimate emergency messages, attackers who use the SSH key to log in to vulnerable systems could make unauthorized changes to the server and glean potentially sensitive configure information that could lead to additional hacks.
This article has been updated in the second paragraph to make clear the vulnerability was fixed in April. If you have to stop for any reason on a busy road or highway, for your own safety and for the safety of other motorists, an emergency warning sign is necessary to prevent accidents and to prevent you being hurt.
Able to generate thousands of calls in a matter of minutes, voice broadcast emergency alert dialers are the best option in an emergency. It will also allow the consumer to have the option of pressing a number to speak with your company if they wish to.
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 publication of the key makes it trivial for hackers to gain unauthorized access on Digital Alert System appliances that run default settings on older firmware. The advisories from IOActive and the CERT groups didn't say if the February attacks were carried out by exploiting the SSH key vulnerability. Simply log in, record your message, upload a list of contacts and within minutes, your emergency notification system can safely alert the public. In the event of an emergency, when time is of the essence, make sure you have the best tool available to alert the public in the quickest, most efficient, and safest way possible. Take advantage of our Free Trial today to see how the Voice Broadcast system can benefit you.

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