Zombies are not attacking, but hackers are

Emergency alerts broadcast on the stations were apparently the work of hackers.

No, zombies aren't attacking northern Michigan. Or Montana. Or California, Utah or New Mexico.

Television stations in each of these states — about 10 altogether — definitely experienced some creepiness on Monday, though, when hackers broke into their Emergency Alert System with zombie warning messages. Along with a crawl strip, an audio message said "dead bodies are rising from their graves" and "attacking the living."

All of the incidents are believed to be related.

Video: Hackers broadcast zombie alert on Montana TV station

Greg MacDonald, CEO of the Montana Broadcasters Association, said the FBI and the FCC are investigating the cases, and officials believe the hoax originated overseas.

"It's a serious issue. Initially people laughed about zombies, but then you start digging and find that it's not that funny," he told the Great Falls Tribune.

The zombie message that aired at KRTV in Great Falls, Mont., went viral on the Internet. It was the story of the day on JimRomenesko.com, a journalism industry blog, the paper said. Stations from CNN to local news outlets aired the story.

The same alert hit ABC 10 in Michigan, and the minute it did, the station alerted the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, which alerted law enforcement, WBUP's Cynthia Thompson told the Tribune.

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters told its members about programming changes to prevent hacking. Association President Karole White said it's the first breach of the emergency system she's aware of since its inception in the 1940s.

"Standard practice is to report the news and not be a part of it," Thompson told the paper. "The only thing that would make this funnier would be if it happened on Halloween. We're just making lemonade out of lemons."

The most ironic part of the zombie hack, she said, is that the WBUP newsroom overlooks a graveyard.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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