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Transportation Security

It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-the-mobile-app dept.
An anonymous reader notes coverage of research from the University of Michigan into the ease with which attackers can hack traffic lights. From the article: As is typical in large urban areas, the traffic lights in the subject city are networked in a tree-type topology, allowing them to pass information to and receive instruction from a central management point. The network is IP-based, with all the nodes (intersections and management computers) on a single subnet. In order to save on installation costs and increase flexibility, the traffic light system uses wireless radios rather than dedicated physical networking links for its communication infrastructure—and that’s the hole the research team exploited. ... The 5.8GHz network has no password and uses no encryption; with a proper radio in hand, joining is trivial. ... The research team quickly discovered that the debug port was open on the live controllers and could directly "read and write arbitrary memory locations, kill tasks, and even reboot the device (PDF)." Debug access to the system also let the researchers look at how the controller communicates to its attached devices—the traffic lights and intersection cameras. They quickly discovered that the control system’s communication was totally non-obfuscated and easy to understand—and easy to subvert.
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It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

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  • by mlts (1038732) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:29AM (#47729073)

    I remember this crossroads in the 1990s. Would firms in general focus on security, even though the worst threats at that time were college students looking to rm -rf / a box or two for kicks.

    It came out worse than I could imagine. I heard the "security has no ROI" mantra many a time (although the past couple places I worked at, they actually take it seriously.) When working as a consultant, I asked companies what they had for something if they were hacked. The response was, "We will call Geek Squad or Infosys, and have the problem fixed."

    I have read people hoping for a "Warhol event" that would get businesses focusing on security. However, I would say that a "cyber 9/11" (to use a buzzword" would do far more harm to security in general than help.

    Take this scenario:

    A hurricane has a populated city in its sights. Evacuations are starting. As people are getting on the roads, Elbonian actors hack the anti-theft disable mechanism of a major car maker, disabling random cars at a time on all major roads. When those are towed, another set of cars get turned off. Havoc happens.

    Congress is then pushed to push some bills into law. Well, they do. However, they do little or nothing. Here are the bills:

    1: A mandatory DRM stack on any device in the US accessing the Internet, enforced by endpoint routers, with mandatory 10-life if any are tampered with.

    2: All "tools for cyber-warfare", even something as banal as tcpdump, would be removed from operating systems, and only allowed to registered people.

    3: Similar to #1, all machines would run a scanner similar to an antivirus utility, but would use signatures to look for unlicensed MP3 files, movies, programs like Handbrake, and if detected, would automatically shut the machine down and notify the local authorities.

    4: A central ID card, similar to a PIV/CAC would be requires on any/all devices so all transactions (even a web login) are positively identified. It would be a felony for someone to access the Internet without their packets being signed or attributed to an ID card.

    Of course, none of this would actually -HELP- security, but it would keep it swept under the covers, and (using MBA speak) allow better monetization of existing revenue streams... i.e. your PC becomes a locked down console with only big name brands able to write software for it due to the legal barriers of entry.

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