January 29, 2009

Signs warn of ‘zombies ahead’

Hackers got into computer-controlled road signs in Austin, Texas, changing their warning from construction to zombies ahead.

Many drivers thought the vandalism was a light-hearted prank -- like Jane Shin, a University of Texas student, who was with friends when she saw the warning Sunday night.

I thought it was pretty funny, she told KXAN-TV. We wondered who did it.

City officials had a different take. Sara Hartley, a spokeswoman for the public works department, said the pranksters had to break into the sign to get at the computer inside, cutting through a padlock, and then hack the computer to change the message. The signs belong to the construction company involved in the project.

Even though this may seem amusing to a lot of people, this is really serious, and it is a crime, Hartley said. And you can be indicted for it, and we want to make sure our traffic on the roadways stays safe.

The zombie warning went away Monday morning after a construction superintendent saw the signs as he drove to work.