A clever hacker broke into an LED highway sign in Winter Park, Florida on Saturday night and reprogrammed it to read: “Smoke weed erryday.”
The sign was clearly visible from Minnesota Avenue, Florida-based WFTV 9 reported. It originally displayed a message about a pending road closure.
Road signs like this are frequent targets for mischief-making hackers thanks to their ease of access and complete lack of basic security. Although they can be password protected, most road crews do not bother, leaving the default password as “DOTS.”
The website Jalopnik explained this in a how-to back in 2009 that sparked an epidemic of hacked road signs, most of them warning of zombies. Apparently road crews did not catch on.
If they ever do, however, it won’t make much difference: all of the signs have a fail-safe that resets the password back to DOTS. Just hold Control and Shift, then type in the letters “DIPY.”
At least as far back as 2003, the Florida Department of Transportation identified roadside sign hacking as a problem, pledging to “work with mainstream information technology and transportation infrastructure interests to establish requirements for hardening sensors communications, processing centers, and databases against hacking, fraudulent messages, etc.”
Stephen C. Webster
May 13, 2013
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