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Hackers can break into the traffic grid using drones

Hackers can break into the traffic grid using drones
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

It just seems there's more and more that drones can do, like stealing your password. And that might be the problem!

A hacker has figured out how to use a drone to hijack traffic sensors in New York to change traffic light patterns.

The hack doesn’t target the traffic lights directly but rather sensors embedded in streets that feed data to traffic control systems, says Cesar Cerrudo, an Argentinian security researcher with IoActive who examined the systems and plans to present his findings at the upcoming Infiltrate conference in Florida.

The vulnerable controllers–Sensys Networks VDS240 wireless vehicle detection systems–are installed in 40 U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, DC, as well as in nine other countries.

The sensors are poorly secured and easily overtaken, Cerrudo says, and he showed that by using a drone to take over one area.

Watch the drone at work here.

While Cerruda acknowledges that the systems may have manual overrides and secondary controls that could be used to mitigate problems, an attacker could nevertheless create traffic jams and other problems — causing lights to remain red longer than they should or allowing cars at metering lights to enter freeways and bridges faster or slower than optimal — before anyone would notice and respond to the problem.

“These traffic problems could cause real accidents, even deadly ones by cars crashing or by blocking ambulances, fire fighters, or police cars going for an emergency call,” he writes in a blog post.

Source: Wired
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