Researcher finds campus alert systems unreliable

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - A study by a Georgia Tech scientist has found that alert systems adopted by many colleges and universities in the wake of last year's Virginia Tech shootings can be unreliable, slow in a crisis and could interfere with 911 communications.

The emergency notification systems send automated text messages and voice calls to cell phones - a system that is unable to meet the federal emergency alert goal to reach 85% of the population within 10 minutes, said Patrick Traynor of Georgia Tech's Information Security Center.

Text messages are vulnerable to fraud, since hackers could send out false alerts and like e-mails, texts could be delayed. And in emergencies, a flood of calls to loved ones could overload a cell network and interrupt emergency 911 communications, Traynor said.