Emergency Alert System vulnerable to hacking, report says

      The Emergency Alert System, the vital service that interrupts television and radio programming when public safety is threatened, is highly vulnerable to attacks and hacking, a security firm report says.

      In a report published by IOActive, a worldwide tech security firm, experts say that two major servers used to implement the Emergency Alert System on both the national and local level contain a vulnerability that would allow a hacker to take control.

      After a hacker gains access to the servers, known in the industry as DASDEC-I and DASDEC-II servers, they could potentially interrupt programming and transmit false emergency information.

      "An attacker who gains control of one or more DASDEC systems can disrupt these stations' ability to transmit and could disseminate false emergency information over a large geographic area," the report says.

      A high-profile hacking of the Emergency Alert System took place this past February, when someone gained access to an alert system and broadcast a fake warning to viewers of KRTV in Great Falls, Mont. The false alert said that zombies were attacking the town.

      The current Emergency Alert System was introduced in 1997. It replaced the Emergency Broadcast System, which had been in place since 1963.