UPDATED STORY: 12:50 p.m. Tuesday
An unexpected announcement appeared on local television Monday. The Emergency Alert System at WNMU-TV and WBUP-TV was hacked.
The source of the breach on both systems has been found. Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, NMU's forensics information technology staff was able to trace the hack to an overseas source.
Yesterday, shortly before 4 p.m., people watching Barney on Public TV 13 heard a message that read: "dead bodies are rising from their graves and are attacking the living." The audio message lasted for about a minute.
Tuesday morning, NMU's investigators determined how the hackers got in to the system. That entry has been closed so the problem can't happen again.
The information found today has been turned over to NMU Public Safety, said Eric Smith, WNMU General Manager.
"The public relies on the Emergency Alert System to get emergency messages, whether they're weather or civil emergencies, and as a result, we take this very seriously," Smith said. "It's a responsibility all broadcasters have, and as a result, we'd like to make sure the integrity of the system is sound and solid."
Around 8:30 p.m. last night, a message appeared on WBUP-TV, the local ABC affiliate, during The Bachelor. A similar attack also happened at a station in Montana.
Karole White, the president and CEO of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters said the situation is still developing. Right now, they believe the breach happened through the un-authorized use of security codes. The MAB is working with the head of the Emergency Alert System for the state, the manufacturer of the system, and the Michigan State Police.
White said a breach like this his has never happened before. Until a year ago, the stations used an old EAS that was not connected to the internet. It was a telephone based system.
"The new system is web connected, that makes it slightly more vulnerable," said White. "This has never happened before."
That new system became fully operational about a year ago.
The EAS is a national public warning system. At TV6/FOX UP, it is commonly used to deliver weather alerts. The National Weather Service has direct access to it.
The EAS gives the President the capability to address the American public during a national emergency. The system can also be used by local and state authorities to deliver important emergency information, like AMBER alerts.
UPDATED STORY: 10:35 a.m. Tuesday
The source of the hack on WNMU-TV's Emergency Alert System has been found. Eric Smith, WNMU general manager, said NMU's forensics information technology staff was able to trace the hack to an overseas source around 10 a.m. Tuesday.
"We've now taken steps to close that so we no longer have that problem," said Smith. "The IT staff was able to trace the hack and determine how the hackers got in."
Smith said the information is being turned over to NMU Public Safety.
ORIGINAL STORY: 10:45 p.m. Monday.
Authorities are investigating an apparent hacking of the Emergency Broadcast System. If you were watching Public TV 13 Monday afternoon or the Bachelor on ABC Monday night, you may have seen a message come across the screen saying dead bodies are rising from their graves and are attacking the living.
The station manager of Public TV 13, Eric Smith, told TV6 the Michigan Association of Broadcasters is investigating. NMU public safety has also been notified and will attempt to trace to source of the hacking Tuesday. The Michigan State Police is also aware of the hoax.
Hackers also broke into the emergency alert system of a television station in Great Falls, Montana Monday posting a similar message.
We will have more information as it becomes available.