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Radio News: Hacking infrastructure systems seems to get easier

Apr 16, 2018 10:50 pm
In the past year, human error caused a nuclear war alert in Hawaii, and human hackers got 156 Dallas warning sirens blaring. In the latter attack, the 90 seconds of siren wailing caused by unknown hackers led to over 4,000 calls to 911. In Wired hacker Balint Seeber details how to hack San Francisco's alarm system with with a laptop and a $35 radio. Actually, Seeber found, similar systems are used in other U.S. cities. "If you wanted to send out your own music or your own alert, you could broadcast it across entire cities," Seeber says. "You could do it with something as cheap and easy as a handheld radio you can buy from Amazon." The hacker and his security firm Bastille said that alarms systems in San Francisco and Wichita, Kansas, and another unnamed city, are missing basic encryption and use the open airwaves, so anyone could break in. Bastille could hack into the software of ATI Systems, and the company issued a statement. "Before customers panic too much, please understand that this is not a trivially easy thing that just anyone can do.... At the same time, a certain level of concern is justified. As technology evolves, the level of threat evolves." The level of threats to infrastucture around the world is rising. Last August, there was a cyberattack against a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia intended to cause an explosion. And Russia has been accused of attacking Ukraine's electrical grid. Sometime soon, someone will successfully hack an alert system, or worse, in the United States.
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