The small-scale hacking of the Emergency Alert System in Montana to broadcast a supposed zombie apocalypse earlier this year, revealed the possible safety hazards of a vulnerable alert system, making this new report on various ways to hack the system all the more alarming. According to an IOActive Security Advisory published, two of the systems responsible for delivering the messages, can be easily hacked. "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," explains the report. DASDEC I and DADSEC II are both, apparently, at risk. But it doesn't just stop there: In addition, the report also links to another notice about further vulnerabilities in the system known as R189 One-Net/R189SE One-NetSE bringing the hole count up to three, which is disconcerting.
Technically, compromising the DASDEC systems doesn't sound too difficult. "These DASDEC application servers are currently shipped with their root-privileged SSH key as part of the firmware update package," Mike Davis, the principal research scientist who discovered the holes, told Wired's Kim Zetter. "This key allows an attacker to remotely log on in over the Internet and can manipulate any system function." In other words: If you have the secret password sent out with the firmware you can hack it— basically.