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Confusion when Florida city warns residents of a ‘zombie invasion’ after system hack

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As if things aren’t strange enough already in this country, Lake Worth, Fla., residents received a cellphone alert from the city about a power outage and were also warned to look out for zombies — yes, as in the walking dead.

Officials are not entirely sure, but it appears someone made a humorous, albeit ill-advised edit to the city’s power outage notification system, according to WPTV News. The notice sent out read: “There are now far less than seven thousand three hundred and eighty customers involved due to extreme zombie activity. Restoration time uncertain.”

Lake Worth spokesman Ben Kerr told the Palm Beach Post the city is looking into the notice sent out Monday morning around 1:45 a.m. that warned of a “zombie alert for residents of Lake Worth and Terminus.”

“There’s an investigation ongoing,” he explained. “But right now I have no details on it. It’s not information I can get into. It’s an outside investigation and I have no idea (how long it will take).”

Kerr said the messages are pre-prepared, adding that it wasn’t altered by a current or former city employee.

“There’s literally thousands of them,” he said. “At some point, some edits were made and that’s what you saw. Someone edited it with a zombie invasion going on.”

“Now the system has been scrubbed and there will be no further zombie messaging until the actual zombie investigation comes,” Kerr said, having a little fun with the snafu.

Push notifications from government officials are becoming common, but hacks and other mistakes can have significant impact, as seen in Hawaii in January, when an errant message warn residents of an imminent ballistic-missle threat.

Zombie warning are not new, as seen last week in Pennsylvania.

Springettsbury Township Police Department took to Facebook to have a little fun after a traffic board was hacked, assuring residents that the city is zombie-free.

“It appears that someone gained access to the sign and typed in their own messages,” the Facebook message read. “We hope there was no public alarm today as there were no reports of Zombies anywhere in Springettsbury Township.”

Tom Tillison


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