Researchers say hackers can fake messages from the US president and send tens of thousands of phones.
According to researchers at Colorado Boulder University, the US President’s emergency warning messaging system may be hacked. They immediately announced a new discovery to the government to find a solution to ensure national security.
American’s Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is a system that can send messages to specific areas or nationwide in urgent cases. It could be about a disappearance, warning of a natural disaster or the president’s message about a national emergency.
Recently, the University of Colorado Boulder announced that the US president’s warning message could be faked. The study found that they found a backdoor that allowed hackers to mimic national warnings and send fake messages to certain residential areas.
“The process of sending government messages to basic cell towers is safe. But there is a big gap when the signal is transmitted from the cell tower to the people, ”said Sangtae Ha of the research group.
Researchers have developed software that mimics the presidential warning format, then uses a wireless transmitter (marketed) to send messages. This fake system can successfully reach up to 90% of targeted phones.
“We just need to deliver that message to the right frequency and send it to the smartphone of the people,” Sangtae Ha said. He added that his group has successfully sent tens of thousands of phones. The study was tested on both iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8. Currently US authorities have not made any statements.
In October 2018, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent a message to all Americans to check the system. With WEA, anyone with a mobile service gets the content, “This is a national wireless emergency warning system check. You don’t need to take any action. ”
In fact, WEA has had trouble confusing public opinion. On January 13, 2018, Hawaiian people had a “pity” because of a warning about the danger of approaching ballistic missiles. The message also calls for all to seek shelter because this is not a drill.
Soon afterwards, however, the Hawaii emergency management office confirmed that there was no missile threat and said it was a human error. Specifically, the on-call staff mistakenly pressed the button causing unexpected problems. Fake alerts are sent to people phones, local radio and television.