Red Light, Green Light, Hacked Light

The Register - Criminals monkeying with traffic lights are a staple of cinema: the 1969 Italian Job and Luc Besson's Taxi are particularly fine examples. Now researchers have demonstrated that fact is much less glamorous – and simpler – than fiction.

In a paper [PDF] delivered to the USENIX Security 2014 conference this week, a team led by University of Michigan computer scientist Alex Halderman has found that traffic signals and their controllers can be hijacked in minutes.

Halderman and co claim this is possible from half a mile away with nothing more than a laptop and some radio broadcast equipment, since the electronics behind the lights communicate using almost no security checks.

To make matters worse, when the team approached the maker of the vulnerable traffic systems equipment, the academics were brushed off. The unnamed manufacturer apparently told the researchers that it "followed the accepted industry standard and it is that standard which does not include security," and thus plans no changes.

Read the rest of "Need a green traffic light all the way home?"on The Register


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