Security researchers from the University of Michigan with permission from local road authorities have hacked into nearly 100 wirelessly networked traffic lights and were able to change the state of the lights on command. The researchers say it is easy to do, noting someone only needs a laptop and a wireless card operating on the same 5.8-GHz frequency as the wirelessly networked traffic lights.
All of the devices studied by the team used the default credentials that came with the devices, which are available on the Internet. In addition, the network was not encrypted and it took only one point of access to hack into the whole system.
The researchers speculate a hacker could launch a denial-of-service attack to stop normal light functionality, a subtle attack to cause significant traffic congestion, or choose to control lights for personal gain, such as hitting all green lights along their route.
The main components of wirelessly networked traffic lights are sensors that detect cars and inspect infrastructure, which are generally tied to traffic controllers that read the inputs and control light states. The controllers communicate with each other and a central server.
The researchers say the lack of security consciousness in the field is a problem, and security should be built into these devices from the start.
From Network World
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