THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced plans to test a mobile phone emergency alert system in the UK to warn people of floods, industrial accidents and other risks.
The system is similar to services in the US and Australia and will be tested in Glasgow, North Yorkshire and Suffolk. The government has enlisted O2, Vodafone and EE to examine how different technologies work, and how the public reacts when they receive alerts on their phones.
If you live in the trial areas you needn't worry that you're about to be warned about some giant earthquake or monsoon, as the government has been quick to point out that the chosen areas were not picked due to an incoming threat.
Francis Maude, minister for the cabinet office said, "I want to reassure the public that these tests are not linked to any threat or specific hazard in their area.
"We have included diverse areas - both rural and urban - as part of our tests, as we want to look at how effective the different systems are in different areas using mobile phones to deliver mass messaging."
As part of the test, up to 50,000 people will receive messages marked as "test" this autumn, so again there's no need to worry about an incoming hazard.
While this all sounds well and good, experts have warned that the service will likely be open to hacking and fraud. Chester Wisniewski of Sophos told the BBC, "Spoofability will go through the roof if they use 'plain Jane' test messages.
"Anything that carries the gravitas of a national alerts system will be a target for hackers. They are opening themselves up to vulnerabilities." µ
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