Wireless traffic control systems are often poorly encrypted or without any cybersecurity, leaving them open to attacks that could allow hackers to manipulate lights at their whim. In one experiment, researchers were able to control more than 1,000 traffic lights with a laptop and wireless radio.
“The real attacks here are where you clog up congestion in a city so you can turn all the lights to red and people will be stuck in traffic jams for hours,” says one researcher.
We implicitly trust these devices,” said Branden Ghena, a University of Michigan PhD student who studies how easy it is to manipulate electronics. “We drive through the intersection knowing that red means we should stop and green means we should go and there’s not going to be any trouble. The light will work as intended.”
“We could actually make the lights all red,” said Ghena. “We could change the light to be green in our direction. These are clearly not the intended behavior of these systems.
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