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FBI Nabs Chicago Transit Authority Radio Hacker 177

Posted by timothy
from the yeah-please-don't-touch-that-button-ok dept.
Wh15per writes "The Chicago FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested an individual for misusing Chicago Transit Authority radio systems. Marcel Carter, 20, is charged with violating a US code that forbids interference with transportation operators. A federal complaint alleges he began using a radio to transmit on CTA frequencies in June 2008, often interjecting comments during communications between the agency's control center and train operators. The CTA claims Carter's radio communications were never followed, and passengers were never in danger."
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FBI Nabs Chicago Transit Authority Radio Hacker

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  • Refreshing Change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dtmos (447842) * on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:27AM (#28942915)

    See, there is some good news occasionally.

    Oh, and can we reserve use of the term "hacker" for someone with at least a modicum of technical skills? This guy isn't even a cracker. All he did was talk on a stolen radio.

    • by qortra (591818)

      All he did was talk on a stolen radio.

      And purchase it, allegedly.

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:31AM (#28943015) Homepage Journal

      All he did was talk on a stolen radio.

      No kidding. A radio hacker would have made his own radio transceiver. This guy's just a common street thug.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Romancer (19668)

        And it doesn't even matter if his "...radio communications were never followed..."

        He could have been talking over some important directions, or distracting from critical legitimate communications, or if someone thought that it was him and ignored a real direction it is the same thing. He's an idiot on their frequency, thereby endangering the passengers.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by SEWilco (27983)
          The article mentions two incidents where he tried to make trains go when they shouldn't move. The first incident, telling a train to go past a stop signal, risks a crash. Give an idiot a radio and he'll eat for 1-5 years in prison.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd (701)

        Or, at the very least, modified a radio to operate on the CTA frequencies, but it sounds like he bought a stolen CTA radio.

        Not a hacker or cracker by any sense of either word.

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          Of course, I thought of this AFTER posting, the closest terminology in computer circles to describe this guy would be "script kiddie".

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

            I'm not sure he even ranks up that high. Well, not that it's high.

            Someone stole a radio. He bought the stolen radio. He turned it on, and found that he could hear inter-train communications, so he decided to play along and give his own instructions.

            By far not even script kiddie material. Definitely not hacker material either.

            Now, if he had ordered a full stop on all lines, that could have been considered a DoS attack. (denied train service to

      • by The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:50AM (#28943373)

        From TFA

        Marcel Carter, of the 200 block of West 37th Place, was arrested Friday after he and his brother asked a CTA employee at a train station if there was a reward for a stolen radio. The employee put Carter on the phone with a dispatcher who recognized Carter's voice and kept him talking until police could arrive.

        He sounds like a common moron.

        • Common Moron (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @12:46PM (#28944303) Journal

          Who is about to get pwnt by the full weight of the post 9/11 hysteria.
          Throw in a healthy dollop of "omg there have been numerous subway accidents recently" and he's screwed.

          He was formally charged Monday with knowingly interfering with the operation of a mass transportation vehicle, a felony under the USA PATRIOT Act.

          The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force has been investigating the case for more than a year...
          ...
          If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in jail and a 200,000 fine.

          One would have thought that this would be a case for the FCC and the Chicago Transit Police.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by JWSmythe (446288)

            Back in the day, I'm sure the transit police may have invited the FCC in to play, and this kid would have seen more time in interrogation rooms than he ever wanted to see. Eventually they'd send him crying home to his mommy, and that'd be it.

            Now, it rates a vacation in Southeastern Cuba.

            US Patriot Act, Title VIII

            "[those who] does something to impair the running of the transportation system, including removing or damaging a train control system, centralized dispatching system

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Obfuscant (592200)
              Back in the day, I'm sure the transit police may have invited the FCC in to play, and this kid would have seen more time in interrogation rooms than he ever wanted to see.

              The FCC doesn't use interrogation rooms. They send letters. "Notice of Apparent Liability". You get a certain amount of time to respond, and then an administrative law judge decides the case. Then you get a letter telling you the fine.

              Now, it rates a vacation in Southeastern Cuba.

              What utter nonsense.

              You forgot to read one important

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by JWSmythe (446288)

                Those are the good and logical arguments. Remember to use such arguments when trumped up charges are brought against you. :)

                I ended up in court once as a kid. The state cited impossible physics, my car flying, and my obvious danger to the population at large. It was all a crock.

                I'll give you the brief rundown of their case.

                My car was traveling at 141 miles per hour on a narrow limestone road. In my attempts to kill the prosecutions witness, I c

                • by sjames (1099)

                  Your case is very clearly a flagrant disregard for logic, the law, or even basic fairness on the prosecution and court's part. However, I don't see how it relates to the case at hand where (unlike your case) the allegations are quite believable and if true would actually endanger people.

                  I guess the guy in your case watched too many "Dukes of Hazard": episodes and didn't realize real cars need a ramp and serious modification to make jumps like that and often have top be towed away after.

                  • by JWSmythe (446288)

                        Until it finally makes it's way through the courts, truth is in the perception of the arresting officer.

                       

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      As I can see - why does it even reach into the list of Slashdot articles?

      It must be a very slow day when a dumbass local to Chicago makes the headlines on Slashdot and get the whole thing propagated worldwide.

    • Re:Refreshing Change (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jim Hall (2985) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @12:27PM (#28944039) Homepage

      Oh, and can we reserve use of the term "hacker" for someone with at least a modicum of technical skills? This guy isn't even a cracker. All he did was talk on a stolen radio.

      Mr Barn, I'd like to introduce you to Mr Horse. Oh, sorry - he seems to have run away already.

      Gone are the days when "hacker" meant free-spirited computer programmer of the 1960's. [wikipedia.org] Also long gone are the days when it meant home computer hobbyist. [wikipedia.org] These days, assume "hacker" means simply breaks into stuff, [wikipedia.org] or more generally "does something wrong using technology."

      Use an exploit to "own" a server? Hacker. Break into your school's computer system and change a grade? Hacker. Impersonate the transit authority hub station using a radio? Hacker.

      • When it started to get disgusting is when people started using it to describe just about any sort of cheat in an online game, other than exploiting a bug -- for instance, "wallhacking".

      • Even to the unwashed masses, stealing a radio and talking on it certainly are not 'hacking' unless there is social engineering going on for access to something, which doesn't seem to be the case here. Maybe if he'd tried the stolen radio reward scenario first, but then it'd just be theft and/or extortion. No hack or hacking applied here, no matter how much you could try to misuse the word.

    • c/hacker/douche bag

      There, fixed that for ya.

    • It's not clear from the story if the radio was actually stolen, of if he bought it somewhere and happened to get radio that was configured for the transit system and was dumb enough to try to sell it to them. I don't know what kind of radio system Chicago uses, but regular non-trunked radios can be had on eBay or real stores and many of them are easily programmable -lawfully and otherwise- for various uses. This guy doesn't sound smart enough to have done that himself, so it's more likely he just bought/
  • by leighton (102540) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:31AM (#28943007)

    Merriwhether said her son knew why he was being arrested, but didn't know that what he was doing was against the law.

    Translation: "Merriwhether said that her son was a *@#$%&# idiot."

    During an initial court appearance Monday, Judge Morton Denlow set Carter's bond at $4,500 and put him under the supervision of his mother. He was instructed to not use any broadcasting devices.

    Interesting. So he can't use wifi? I wonder what the judge's order actually said.

    • by autocracy (192714)
      "Potentially causing trains to crash isn't illegal? What about making every traffic light in the city green?" Oh, and before anybody calls me on that joke, traffic lights have hardware interlocks which make it impossible to do so. Despite this, some major cities have direct control of signals where you could do a tic-tac-toe pattern and make it impossible to drive more than a block in a straight line. That would be non-hazardous and rather amusing.

      PS, knowing why you're being arrested is usually pretty clos
      • by geekoid (135745)

        "Potentially causing trains to crash isn't illegal? ?

        Yes, but that was never at risk of happening.

        "knowing why you're being arrested is usually pretty close to knowing that you did something illegal."

        No it's not.
        I was nearly arrested for launching a model rocket. The officer showed up, I knew why he was there but had no idea there was a city ordinance against model rocket launches.

        In the end, I was not arrest. It was a small rocket that might of gone up 500 feet.

        And yes, he needs to be charged, but no, he s

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by autocracy (192714)
          It's a great PR line, but I don't think it's safe to say that they were never at risk. Just because motions didn't happen does NOT mean that motions couldn't have happened.

          I did make a tenuous statement about the "being arrested is usually close to knowing..." bit, so I'll concede that right away. What he did was still dangerous, though, and did present a risk to trains. A greater risk if he knew what he was saying.
        • by Verdatum (1257828)
          No model rockets? That's a travesty! No, I'm not being sarcastic, that's really lame.
          • In dry areas, they can be pretty draconian over what you can do when anything that might result in explosions or fire are involved. One misplaced spark and you've got five square miles and growing of burning kindling that hasn't had control burns in over a decade.

            I'd wonder what the laws are on fireworks there, because I'd wager those are outlawed too.

    • by denttford (579202) *
      So do I, as there is a difference between broadcasting ("Transmissions intended for reception by the general public, either direct or relayed.") and transmitting (vague, could be simply the act of radiating, or often communications that are one to one, or a in small group, usually in two way communications). Yes, clearly influenced from amateur use, but the quote is an FCC definition. In common speech, there is little distinction, but in technical matters and regulation, even outside amateur practice, bro
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:33AM (#28943041)

    FTFA: "interfering with the operation of a mass transportation vehicle, a felony under the USA PATRIOT Act."

    Yelling at a bus driver? Felony
    Leaning in front of an oncoming train? Felony
    Talking on the transit radio band? Felony
    Putting pennies on train tracks? Felony

    Somehow, my youth was filled with felonious behavior. Perhaps the Homeland needs securing from scamps like me.

    • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:52AM (#28943421)
      I suspect your youth was filled with obnoxious behaviour, but that it didn't rise to the level of felony. I mean, you think that putting pennies on a train track actually interferes with the operation of the train. I doubt the train even notices. And "yelling at a bus driver"? Sorry. That probably doesn't count as interfering with the operation of a mass transit system, either.

      Now, issuing false instructions that endanger the lives of tens or hundreds of people, THAT's felony territory, and anyone who does that should be locked up.

      • And "yelling at a bus driver"? Sorry. That probably doesn't count as interfering with the operation of a mass transit system, either.

        Of course it does.

        It distracts the driver.

        He can't respond quickly enough to the kid taking his bike out into street - the car that ran the stop sign.

        Someone dies.

        At the very least, you've done your bit to make the mass transit experience singularly unpleasant for everyone.

        That doesn't help boost ridership and revenues, it sure as heck doesn't make it any easier to recrui

        • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @01:35PM (#28945215)
          And "yelling at a bus driver"? Sorry. That probably doesn't count as interfering with the operation of a mass transit system, either.

          Of course it does.

          It distracts the driver.

          From what? The comment was simply "yelling at the bus driver", under the SUBJECT "Pranks...". If you are standing at the entrance of the bus yelling at him while he's waiting for you to pay so he can close the doors and move on, you aren't distracting him from anything -- his job at that moment is to watch you pay your fare, so he's already dealing WITH YOU. So no, simply "yelling at the bus driver" as a "prank" isn't a felony because it isn't interfering with the mass transport system.

          Now, if you run up behind him while he's DRIVING DOWN THE STREET and start yelling at him out of the blue, yes, I suppose that's something that should be punished and is dangerous, which is why I wouldn't call it a PRANK.

          Someone dies.

          Yes, if you cause the death of someone, except under specific circumstances, it is a crime and you should go to jail. That's not "a prank". Simply yelling at a driver does not mean "someone dies".

          At the very least, you've done your bit to make the mass transit experience singularly unpleasant for everyone.

          And now you're trying to define "making something unpleasant" as a felonious interference with a mass transport system that endangers lives and property. Shit, most of the people riding on the bus make the experience unpleasant for the others. They smell, they spit, they yak yak yak, they play radios, they step on your toes as they walk by. They cough, they sneeze, they wheeze and gasp, they spill their drinks on you. If you want to claim that "make the experience unpleasant" is a felony, then there are a lot of people who need to be arrested.

          That doesn't help boost ridership and revenues, it sure as heck doesn't make it any easier to recruit and retain drivers.

          You really need to get a grip on the difference between "interference with a mass transport system" and "being obnoxious". Or don't, and continue to whine about how the Patriot Act ruins your life because it makes everything you do illegal, and look stupid when you tell people exactly what you're doing that you think is illegal. No, "yelling at a bus driver" isn't. "Putting pennies on a train track" isn't. "Interfering with mass transport communications and safety systems" is.

    • by yogibaer (757010) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:57AM (#28943515)
      I have to disagree: There is a difference between talking on the transit radio band and (according to TFA) impersonating the control center, telling a driver to disregard a stop signal. Which proud owner of a model railway has not enjoyed the mayhem now and again while playing "train crash" like Gomez Adams but it is not funny, when playing with a real subway. The "prankster" was 20 years old btw. (not 12) so felony, indeed and good to know that subway drivers are well trained and capable of independent thought.
    • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @12:00PM (#28943563) Homepage Journal

      -Talking out of turn...that's a paddling. Looking out the window...that's a paddling. Staring at my sandals...that's a paddling. Paddling the school canoe...ooh, you better believe that's a paddling

      Jasper.

    • by Verdatum (1257828)
      Damn kids refusing to get off old man's lawn? Felony.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by frozentier (1542099)

      FTFA: "interfering with the operation of a mass transportation vehicle, a felony under the USA PATRIOT Act."

      Yelling at a bus driver? Felony Leaning in front of an oncoming train? Felony Talking on the transit radio band? Felony Putting pennies on train tracks? Felony

      Somehow, my youth was filled with felonious behavior. Perhaps the Homeland needs securing from scamps like me.

      Peeing on the "third rail"? Felony

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        I think the punishment on that one comes right along with the crime.

            ZzzzzZZZap! ha!

    • I was on the bus the other day and an old crone pulled the bell cord but the bus sailed past her stop.

      She rubbed her hands together and yelled "Out out, Damn, Stop"

      Is telling bad bus jokes also a felony?

      What enquiring minds want to know is when they made talking on transit frequencies a felony, did they give a list of the frequencies we were to avoid?

    • Well, they'd better come get me then.

      The only time in my life I nearly got in a fight with a cop was when I was seriously buzzed up on Jolt cola (All the sugar and twice the caffeine!) and refused to obey a transit cop.

      It was NOT a pretty afternoon for me.

      Nowadays, I guess they'd just throw be in prison.

    • Felonies are the spice of life. Things that go boom are cool.

      Some felonies are just stupid though.

      For example 30 years ago a moron from my childhood neighborhood got his first pair of bolt cutters.

      Nothing with a lock was safe. You deliberately left things unlocked so as not to attract Kenny.

      Then he found a railroad switch to a siding with a padlock on it. He derailed a few cars at the end of a freight into a river that night.

      If it hadn't been backing up when it derailed he would have likely kille

  • Taking bets (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:33AM (#28943055)
    So, who will get the worst punishment, this guy or the guy who modded consoles? Taking bets now!
  • by pongo000 (97357) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:33AM (#28943059)

    In a previous life, I was an air traffic controller. For about a month, we had a moron that was transmitting on ATC frequencies, trying to give or override control instructions. Since he didn't have a good grasp of ATC phraseology, he was easy to ignore. But he did succeed in causing quite a bit of frequency interference: ATC still operates on AM, so there is no "capture" effect as with FM, where the strongest station overrides weaker stations. Simultaneous transmissions are garbled, so "Say again" becomes a very automatic response in those situations (hell, I still use that phrase today...old habits die hard).

    My point here is that I do not see a reason why public transportation systems still rely on decades-old, non-encrypted technology. With ATC, it's a trivial matter of ordering a handheld on-line that is capable of transmitting on all ATC freqs. Agencies that continue to rely on antiquated systems deserve part of the blame.

    • by maxume (22995) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:42AM (#28943211)

      A simple answer is that it isn't much of a problem (how many deadly incidents have there been in the last decade?) and there are thousands of radios.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      At least with airplanes, they rely on decades-old, non-encrypted technology because it works, because to upgrade would require every grass field landing strip to upgrade decades-old radios that still work just as well as they did a half century ago, every antique piper cub to get new radio systems, and require world-wide adherence to the new standard all because some doof can override the signal if they want.

      If that's not a knee-jerk, I don't know what is.

      As for the busses, if they have enough of a probl
      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        Actually, the piper flying in and out of a grass strip may not need radio at all. You don't "need" it until you're in controlled airspace. At least that was the rule a decade or so ago. It is polite to be able to call your approach on an uncontrolled airport, since it'll give the others a clue of what the heck you're attempting to do.

        When I was flying out of a small airport with no tower, there were planes in and out all the time with no radio. We also had handhelds, eithe

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        Just because it's encrypted doesn't mean you can't jam it.

    • Projects that cost a lot of money generally don't happen until there's an actual example of something going wrong due to lack of action. If one of the recent transportation mishaps could be definitely blamed on someone interfering with transmissions, Congress would push the money out in weeks.
    • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:51AM (#28943395)

      For about a month, we had a moron that was transmitting on ATC frequencies

      My point here is that I do not see a reason why public transportation systems still rely on decades-old, non-encrypted technology.

      How would adding encryption to your transmissions fix the RF problem of a doofus transmitting on top of the valid transmissions? The cure for a DOS attack is not making the protocol more complicated thus even easier to overload.

      Also, inevitably, what happens when the JFK airport IT department loses or screws up the key, and all communication is lost? Seems that AM is much more failsafe.

      • by mea37 (1201159)

        You're confusing the attack with the symptom. The symptom is a DoS because the attacker is an idiot, but

        1) A more savvy attacker could actually issue legitimate-sounding instructions that might get followed

        2) The attacker probably wouldn't find it nearly as entertaining if he/she knew that nothing said was actually being heard by anyone. "Oh, look at me, I'm holding down a PTT key and maybe making it hard for someone else's transmissiont to get through!" As an amateur radio operator, or heard deliberate

    • by natehoy (1608657) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:51AM (#28943401) Journal
      Well, partly because if you upgrade all aviation comms to encrypted radios, then every pilot would need to go out and upgrade their equipment to an encrypted unit. Which then means that encrypted radios need to become readily available for every pilot and/or A&P mechanic to purchase, which means every Tom, Dick, and Harry can walk into Ye Olde Pilot Shoppe and buy one, which means that said Tom, Dick, or Harry can then carry on with their mischief. You'd in essence be forcing everyone in the Aviation field who uses comms for anything to upgrade their gear and not improving anything as a result.

      Now, with a closed-loop internal system like bus and train, I see your point. You have a fixed number of authorized users, and life is good. Mischief would be limited to a hacker who has the time and resources to monitor the frequencies long enough to break the encryption (which wouldn't be terribly long, since all the radios would have to use the same encryption keys, but at least the infantile idiots who buy a GPRS radio at WalMart and have trouble inserting the batteries properly would be excluded - so when someone DOES break in they'll celebrate their achievement by something more sophisticated than yelling "AFLAC" in a falsetto duck voice every ten seconds).

      I don't know how much more encrypted radios are, but I'm assuming it's more of a budget issue than a technological one, and the very real possibility that the system can be broken anyway. Heck, I'd think using the cellular network would give them more secure communications with better voice quality and less need to maintain expensive radio towers. But that's point-to-point communications and not broadcast like a radio would be (which means a switch operator can't get on a radio and yell that anyone approaching switch XYZ had better stop right now or risk a crash, for example).
      • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @12:39PM (#28944215)

        You'd in essence be forcing everyone in the Aviation field who uses comms for anything to upgrade their gear and not improving anything as a result.

        I smell another economic stimulus plan brewing... All it needs is a catchy phrase, like "Cash 4 Crashers"

      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        I don't know how much more encrypted radios are, but I'm assuming it's more of a budget issue than a technological one,

        I'm a borderline participant in the local digital fiasco^H^H^H^H^H changeover, so I can add some to this.

        It is a very large budget issue. Standard LMR (land mobile radio) units run $100 to $600, depending on features. Digital (APCO Project 25, in the US) makes the radios START at $1000 each and go up from there. Every radio in the system must be upgraded for the system to work as a whole

    • Becasue the system works fine. When an asshole does screw with it ti gets headlines. That means it's a non common occurrence.

      Plus, this guy had an official radio.

      • A cryptographic system, properly done, would be able to deal with lost radios.

        I realize this wouldn't be directly applicable, but I've run OpenVPN networks before. Each remote machine (laptop, etc), and each server, has its own keypair. Servers, at the very least, can run CRLs -- so if a laptop is stolen, I can revoke its key and deny access right there, without affecting other users.

        Radio would suggest a different mechanism, but ultimately, disabling a single missing radio doesn't sound like a particularly

    • by kalirion (728907)

      Wait, I thought you needed the CIP Device to do that?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 5KVGhost (208137)

      My point here is that I do not see a reason why public transportation systems still rely on decades-old, non-encrypted technology. With ATC, it's a trivial matter of ordering a handheld on-line that is capable of transmitting on all ATC freqs. Agencies that continue to rely on antiquated systems deserve part of the blame.

      There are three major reasons: interoperability, reliability, and expense.

      Different areas have different needs, and that inevitably means that not every system will work with every other sy

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      But he did succeed in causing quite a bit of frequency interference: ATC still operates on AM, so there is no "capture" effect as with FM, where the strongest station overrides weaker stations. Simultaneous transmissions are garbled, so "Say again" becomes a very automatic response in those situations (hell, I still use that phrase today...old habits die hard).

      You *DO* realize that's why aviation still uses AM, right? The FM capture effect, when it happens, happens spontaneously, and there's no way to know

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      I find that I'm constantly saying "Say again". Between people on crappy cell phones, crappy cordless phones, in fringe areas, in noise rooms, or are just drifting off and forget to talk into the microphone, there's always some part of the conversation that I missed.

      I think it annoys the crap out of the cold callers. They call, ask for [garbled name], and my answer is "Say again." Then they say "what", and it's a vicious circle. :)

      If you wanted to call me, you'

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      What would be the point of encryption aviation frequencies?

      The key would need to be provided to every aircraft and indevidual using the frequency, thus eliminating the whole purpose of an encryption key. This also would allow for desasterous concequenses if somebody who needed the key did not have it.

      Analogue radio is a tried and proven communications medium it would be stupid to attempt to change it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The other day I fantasized about hacking into the automated recordings in the Atlanta airport's subway cars (yes, I still miss the old "HAL" voice--PLEASE MOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE VEHICLE AND AWAY FROM THE DOORS). Sure, I'd go to jail for it, but just imagine, preferrably punctuated with lots of "Heh heh heh"s:

    "This train is approaching Concourse A. Concourse A, as in ass-munch."
    "... Concourse B, as in butt-wipe."
    "... Concourse C, as in crapweasel."
    "... Concourse D, as in douchebag."

    I've spent way too mu

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:43AM (#28943227)

    Up next, Man hacks face by growing a beard.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:45AM (#28943255)
    This guy would also would have been wise to stand close to a station and transmit at .05mw, greatly lessening the chances of control hearing him. Also would have helped to learn the lingo before jumping the gun. It's a good thing that a skilled soul didn't possess the radio.

    There's other talk about the ATC issue, but that's harder to solve. CTA should move to encrypted radios. You can't really use that as an option for ATC as train drivers are a limited pool, whereas ATC frequencies are used by anybody flying a plane.

    Oh, and attempting to issue orders to trains that may result in lethal collisions deserves a felony. Chicago deserves only bad press, and hopefully a budget line item for better comms. Much nicer than seeing somebody setup for a decade for screwing with an X-Box.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      Keep in mind that they didn't even DF this guy to catch him - they caught him because he eventually tried to return the radio for a reward and they recognized his voice!

      • by Pig Hogger (10379)

        Keep in mind that they didn't even DF this guy to catch him - they caught him because he eventually tried to return the radio for a reward and they recognized his voice!

        Reverse social engineering :)

      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        DFing a handheld radio operating intermittently in a big-city/urban environment would be nearly impossible. Five watts just doesn't carry well in concrete and steel canyons. That's why they put big antennas up on the top of tall buildings and use repeaters.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by natehoy (1608657)
      If CTA instituted a "read-back" policy like what is used in Aviation, they'd have very close to 100% security from invalid instructions at almost no cost.

      If "Hackboy" tried to introduce an invalid instruction, even if he was on board the train or at the station so only one side could hear him, the transmission would be identified quickly. Even if Hackboy knew the lingo.

      Example:
      Hackboy: "Train 123 this is Control, the blockage ahead of you has been cleared, you are cleared to resume full speed."
      Tra
      • by xaxa (988988)

        The procedure for going past a red signal on a UK railway is roughly:
        1) Stop at the signal
        2) Phone/radio for permission to pass a danger signal
        2a) Warn passengers, if applicable, that the train will go slowly then stop suddenly
        3) Pass the signal at walking pace. The no-you-can't-pass-red-signals system will activate, and the emergency brake will be applied.
        4) Reset the do-not-pass-red-signals system and the emergency brake
        5) Proceed at walking pace to the next signal.

        That's roughly what I've experienced a c

    • It's a good thing that a skilled soul didn't possess the radio.

      That's because Skilled Souls, are almost never assholes.

      At least the kind that would seek to cause a train crash...

  • Yeah, the guy was a dumbass. Yeah, his pranks could possible maybe caused some trouble. But 'Terrorism Task Force?'. Really? This is what we have 'Terrorism Task Forces' working on?

    "You wouldn't want Farmer Jones to come back, would you?"
    "No, no, we wouldn't want that. Napolean is always right."

    • by Verdatum (1257828)
      Damn. Amazon.com has prevented your quote from showing up on my screen.
    • by Enleth (947766)

      Well, "terrorism" is somewhat off, because the guy probably wasn't really aiming to cause public fear and panic (read: terror - yep, that's where the word "terrorism" comes from and everyone using it should remember that), but "attempted manslaughter" would be OK with me. Or do you consider a train crash "a prank" and tens of dead and severely injured "some trouble"? Messing with heavy, fast-moving things packed with people is quite a serious matter, even though such an idiot probably couldn't grasp it.

    • Can I ask how the Terrorism Task Force is to know it is a dumb 20 year old kid and not Al Queda if they don't investigate the case? Can I also ask you why you don't think interfering with a public transit system in a large city is something that a Terrorism Task Force should look into? You honestly can't see the potential?? Just think if it wasn't some dumb 20 year old that had no idea how to speak the proper jargon - the results may have been much different. Sorry, but telling a train to not wait the amoun
      • by hoggoth (414195)

        The Terrorism Task Force didn't catch him with their investigation. They caught him because the stupid 20 year old went to the train station and tried to sell the radio back to them.
        Yes, he should be stopped from doing such a stupid and potentially dangerous prank. Do you really feel this stupid 20 year old deserves to spend 20 years in jail as a terrorist for this? What benefit will that serve? He would come out a 40 year old hardened criminal.

        • The Terrorism Task Force didn't catch him at all. The CTA caught him because they recognized his voice and kept him on the line until police could arrest him. Your whole point was you thought that the TTF shouldn't be involved at all, and I was saying this is exactly the sort of thing they take an interest in. Whether or not I feel a harsh sentence is warranted has nothing to do with my point. But since you asked, yes I think he deserves to be locked up for at least 5 years. That will give him some time to
  • Took them a whole year to find this clown. I'd like to think that our enforcement efforts were a little better than this.
  • by jd2112 (1535857) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @01:59PM (#28945635)
    If convicted. A high cost for something he did on a Saturday in the park on the 4th of July...
  • Hell, I have a Yaesu FT-5100 that is modified to operate out of band. I just use it to listen and even there its not the most sensitive receiver.

    The kid that did this on the CTA is just someone who bought a radio. No technical skill at all.
  • I went to work today and noticed an unusual number of cops at some CTA stops' exits and entrances... Thought it was weird, now I know why!

What the world *really* needs is a good Automatic Bicycle Sharpener.

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