Next time you are driving down the highway, keep an eye out for the messages on electronic road signs. Most will display security messages or traffic cautions, but some may contain a light-hearted message. In two separate instances, hackers changed the message displayed on road signs, giving themselves a laugh and authorities a headache.
The first instance comes from across the northern border in the city of Surrey, British Columbia. The Province reported that two different instances of hackers changing electronic message boards had occurred in the last couple of months. In one instance, pranksters changed a message about a waste pickup program to the message encouraging drivers to “smoke weed everyday.” Someone had broken into the electronic panel on the side to change the message manually, serving as a reminder that not all hackers work remotely.
Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s deputy manager of operations in engineering, was quoted in the article as saying, “It is unfortunate, but something we certainly hadn’t anticipated.”
In another instance, a message board that alerted drivers to roadway changes because of construction, was changed to give “props to a guy named Scott,” for an inaugural encounter, The Province reported. However, Canada isn’t the only country being victimized by renegade road signs.
In a city outside of Rochester, New York, a sign was changed to read “zombies ahead.” According to ABC affiliate 13WHAM, the sign initially displayed an alert that informed drivers about construction. Showing that even road signs should be guarded with layered security and proper authentication measures, the hackers were ably to bypass both a padlock and a passcode to change the message. Despite humorous intentions, state officials were bothered by the potential safety hazards the change could have caused.
The article quoted a spokesperson for New York State’s Department of Transportation who said, “It might’ve been funny to whoever did this, but someone could have been distracted…this could have caused an accident.”
Do you think that the hacked signs posed a threat to drivers?