Signs warn of 'zombies ahead'

Jan. 29, 2009 at 6:23 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- 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.

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