Hackers can exploit network flaw to send fake emergency alerts

Use equipment available from a local store to create a black market cell tower

Tech Desk June 28, 2019


US Hackers can send presidential alert notifications with very little effort according to a paper called, "This is Your President Speaking: Spoofing Alerts in 4G LTE Networks."

According to the paper, the researchers reveal how they were able to exploit a flaw in the LTE networks and use equipment available at a local store to create a “black market cell tower”, and push out a fake presidential alert.

The writers of the paper suggest that such notifications can induce mass panic if sent in densely populated areas like a stadium or a city centre and vulnerabilities of such actions should be taken seriously.

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"Almost all of a 50,000-seat stadium can be attacked with a 90 per cent success rate," said the University of Colorado researchers. "The true impact of such an attack would, of course, depend on the density of cell phones in range; fake alerts in crowded cities or stadiums could potentially result in cascades of panic."

Last year Hawaiians got a scare when they got a notification that a ballistic missile is going to fall on the island. Later, an investigation showed that it was a false alarm and people were safe.

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The researchers of The University of Colorado said the presidential alert system was what inspired them to look into the potential vulnerabilities of such notifications. They said that they had notified the US government about findings of the research and believe that fixing this issue will probably a lengthy process.

This article originally appeared on Mashable


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