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Report: Watch Dogs Game May Have Influenced Highway Sign Hacking 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the video-games-caused-the-holocaust dept.
An anonymous reader writes 'Earlier this month, at least three U.S. states reported that a hacker had broken into electronic road signs above major highways, with the hacker leaving messages for people to follow him on Twitter. The Multi-State Information Sharing an Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) produced an intelligence report blaming a Saudi Arabian hacker that the organization says likely got the idea from Watch Dogs, a new video in which game play revolves around "hacking," with a focus on hacking critical infrastructure-based electronic devices in particular. "Watch Dogs allows players to hack electronic road signs, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs), street lights, cell phones and other systems. On May 27, 2014, the malicious actor posted an image of the game on his Twitter feed, demonstrating his interest in the game, and the compromise of road signs occurs during game play. CIS believes it is likely that a small percentage of Watch Dogs players will experiment with compromising computers and electronic systems outside of game play, and that this activity will likely affect SSLT [state, local, tribal and territorial] government systems and Department of Transportation (DOT) systems in particular." The signs allowed telnet and were secured with weak or default passwords. The report came out on the same day that The Homeland Security Department cautioned transportation operators about a security hole in some electronic freeway billboards that could let hackers display bogus warnings to drivers.'
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Report: Watch Dogs Game May Have Influenced Highway Sign Hacking

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sell more of these type games!

    • No... the real solution is, quit fucking putting such high-tech god damn road signs on the highways. Since when the fuck did the traditional pure metal signs go out of style? The roadsides don't need such expensive hackable junk. In fact, if they're electronic, programmable and have giant screens of some sort, I'd have a hard time even calling them "signs" in the first place. Just go back to the basics. How hard is it to figure out?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Sometimes the message they need to display changes

      • by Aqualung812 (959532) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @09:07PM (#47188381)

        Since when the fuck did the traditional pure metal signs go out of style?

        Since we figured out that electronically changing the message on a sign was MUCH more cost effective than printing a new one each time the message changed.

        "Road closed from June 1st to June 14th" Oh, shit, now we need one that says "No left turn from 8a-5p until August 1st", I guess will order a new sign...

        Also, don't discount the usefulness of re-routing traffic when there is a large planned or unplanned event, like a sports event or an Interstate closing because of a massive wreck.

        • Use prisoners to make those signs...sure, there will be shank-shaped pieces missing, but it'll be cheap and will help control the prison population.
          • You'd be surprised. Most work programs are run by corporations nowadays (I used to work in the IT dept for one). It isn't like the old days where inmates were making products that sold for pennies on the dollar, prices at the company I worked for were good but typically were not that far below the industry averages. And as far as prison control, the inmates who made it into our programs were the low-risk ones that didn't need that much control to begin with. Typically they were "light" criminals with 2 year

        • by ATMAvatar (648864)

          "Road closed from June 1st to June 14th" Oh, shit, now we need one that says "No left turn from 8a-5p until August 1st", I guess will order a new sign...

          "Road Closed" and "No Left Turn" work just as well, and those signs have existed for longer than most of us here have. You don't have to worry about hacking, they're sturdy against most impact damage, and you don't need electricity keep them going..

          • by Xolvix (3649657)

            Sounds like you're proposing that we don't bother trying to develop more flexible and capable signs because what's existed for years is good enough (despite advances in technology). Sure, we can sit back and let things stagnate because it's "how we've always done it", but you're hardly going to find new and interesting ways to put a modern spin on old tech just by keeping things as they were.

            Just because electronic signs have disadvantages does not mean that static signs don't have their own disadvantages.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2014 @12:51AM (#47188875)

          .. only a few days ago, when a major accident blocks access to every lane, including the exit to another large highway (I-405), except the carpool lane. Having all the road signs telling people to merge to the carpool lane, and the carpool lane was now open to all, is useful.

          That said, with respect to the article, I don't understand. You mean to say zombies aren't ahead?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No... the real solution is, quit fucking putting such high-tech god damn road signs on the highways. Since when the fuck did the traditional pure metal signs go out of style? The roadsides don't need such expensive hackable junk. In fact, if they're electronic, programmable and have giant screens of some sort, I'd have a hard time even calling them "signs" in the first place. Just go back to the basics. How hard is it to figure out?

        Ironically this is the same person who carries around a smartphone and talks shit about road signs being "expensive hackable junk".

        Yeah, speaking of going back to basics, how hard is a goddamn land line to use these days? Oh, you NEED social media in the palm of your hand? Ah, OK, yeah got it...rant on Kettle, rant on...

      • by mysidia (191772)

        the real solution is, quit fucking putting such high-tech god damn road signs on the highways. Since when the fuck did the traditional pure metal signs go out of style?

        The Low-tech metal signs are hackable too. Ever heard of this stuff called spray-paint?

      • You needn't go Luddite whenever something technical got abused. But we have to KNOW what we're doing when employing technology so it cannot be turned against us.

        Technology is neither good or evil. It's most blatant with guns, but any kind of gadget or technology cannot be good or evil by itself. It's the application that makes it so. And when we want to use technology for good, for the betterment of ourselves or our society, we also have to safeguard it against abuse by those that want to hurt or destroy.

        Th

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        all depends on the signs. Id LOVE for highways in america to implement digital speed limit signs that they can adjust according to traffic, like they do in germany on the autobahn. again on highways if theres an accident ahead, or roadwork those signs are awesome.

        the problem isnt with the signs, its with the techs who dont lock the access panels when they are done setting them up
        • Id LOVE for highways in america to implement digital speed limit signs that they can adjust according to traffic

          The northern half of I-285 in Atlanta is getting those soon.

          the problem isnt with the signs, its with the techs who dont lock the access panels when they are done setting them up

          The signs aren't "setup and forget," they're controlled in real-time from a central office. They have to be remotely accessible.

          The real issue is that DOTs are not like ecommerce or tech startups; they just don't have the

          • by ganjadude (952775)
            i see, I didnt RTFA, where i live the signs are still controlled from a access panel on the devices not remotely, although that does make more sense
    • Uplink: Hacker Elite was kewl.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    but to do it to plug their own twitter account? Now that's an idiotic new low.

    Idiocracy in effect...
    • A true guru would have created a webpage where people can alter the sign content on the fly, with a webcam pointing at it so you can see your creation.

      Pfft. Amateur.

  • by Hategrin (3579025)

    Classic example of an idiot confusing causation with correlation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

  • And in other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by future assassin (639396) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @08:24PM (#47188187) Homepage

    people getting fed up with the gov are going on killing sprees. Gov at fault, let ban it.

  • more quality moderation/editing:

    SSLT [state, local, tribal and territorial]

    So does the T stand for tribal or territorial, and WTF does the second S stand for? Soulskill?

  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @08:28PM (#47188201) Journal

    Personally, I've always thought it would be amusing to hack one of those signs and I've never heard of the game "Watch Dogs."

    "Help! I'm trapped in a highway sign factory!" is the most obvious message, but I'm sure I could come up with a bunch of random messages to put in...

  • by meerling (1487879) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @08:34PM (#47188225)
    I heard about road signs being reprogrammed back in the 90s. This is nothing new.
  • Oh god. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Saturday June 07, 2014 @08:40PM (#47188259) Homepage

    Instead of rational articles with headlines something like:

    Insecure government process allows trivial unauthorized access to road infrastructure

    We get ones focusing on how a game may have encouraged people to hack into the stuff. I don't think it'll ever end.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      That's a symptom of why I never share Slashdot stories on social media: this place has about zero credibility.

    • This. Flipping open a box and typing in "Password" isn't hacking anymore than pushing open a door is picking a lock.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So they can sell more copies of the failing Watch Dogs game. The graphics turned out to be terrible compared to the videos, and the gameplay is below that of older GTA V. The DRM system (UPlay) is a nightmare on PC.

    I'd bet they are welcoming any press they can get.

    • by RogueyWon (735973) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @03:46AM (#47189225) Journal

      I don't disagree with you on the quality of the game. Unfortunately, in this case, Ubisoft are laughing all the way to the bank, because it's the fastest selling game not based on an existing IP in history and has posted the best opening weekend sales of any Ubisoft game in history. And this is despite the terrible PC port, the uPlay problems affecting all platforms, the limp plot and character designs that feel straight out of the notebook doodles of a 13 year old who still thinks wearing a trench-coat makes you cool and the laughable implementation of the core "hacking" concept.

      So sure, while it would be nice to think that Ubisoft is sitting there feeling sad and desperate, it's simply not true.

      But if you're reading this and thinking you need something shiny and new to play on your PC or new PS4/Xbox One, then be advised that the new Wolfenstein is a far better game in every respect (an actual proper shooter, rather than a 2-gun corridor game).

  • by Nyder (754090) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @08:45PM (#47188283) Journal

    Video games are the big evil. They are murderer trainers and hacking instructors. They fill our kids with all sort of evil ideas and shows them how to properly and easily do them in the real world.

    Fucking twats. People been hacking non electric street signs since those have been coming out. And I'm pretty sure you'll find other peeps have been hacking electric sings way before this (I know I've seen them). What makes this big? Oh ya, a video game came out where you can hack signs. Easy to blame the game, since obviously video games are responsible for the shooting the other day also.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      People been hacking non electric street signs since those have been coming out

      Yeah, seriously... someone is smart enough to hack a street sign, but not smart enough to think of it? I'd say there are probably 100 people who would think "hey it would be cool to hack that sign" for every one who is capable of doing it.

      The kind of people who can be influenced by a silly hacker video game are not often those with the intelligence to do anything about it.

    • It's computer games! Computer games, I tell you!

      Before GTA, nobody hit hookers or used cars as getaway vehicles! And the older ones here might still remember what a place of love and joy this planet was before Battlefield introduced people to a way to kill each other.

    • Video games are the big evil. They are murderer trainers and hacking instructors. They fill our kids with all sort of evil ideas and shows them how to properly and easily do them in the real world.

      Fucking twats. People been hacking non electric street signs since those have been coming out. And I'm pretty sure you'll find other peeps have been hacking electric sings way before this (I know I've seen them). What makes this big? Oh ya, a video game came out where you can hack signs. Easy to blame the game, since obviously video games are responsible for the shooting the other day also.

      All this shit boils down to is somebody assuming Correlation = Causality. It's the exact same shit we hear when some kid goes nuts and shoots up a school. It's the exact same shit we hear when Political Party A wants to discredit Political Party B.

      It's nothing new.

      Some kid gets bored and for a few laughs does a readily available trick on some road signs. Rather than figure out ways to prevent it, it's much easier and cheaper to pin point some trivial bullshit and raise a fuss about it. So, naturally

  • Homeland Security Dept. reports security hole in some electronic billboards that could allow hacks.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    with beards!

  • Why include it in the summary? Telnet or ssh, it's the same difference - a remote backdoor.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Back when I was a kid the passwords were all "DOT". Then they wised up and changed them all to "DOT1".

  • L.A. Story? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Irate Engineer (2814313) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @09:35PM (#47188441)

    I'd hack a sign to say "KISS HER YOU FOOL" or "THAT FELT GOOD". That should make things interesting.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Damn, I just posted or I'd have modded this one up :)

    • Well, here's a quick summary of a few of the more interesting or funny sign hacks I've seen:

      "The British R coming"
      "Why join the Navy when you can be a pirate"
      "Snowden is a hero"
      "Report sign hackers"
      "City closed. It's too damn hot"
      "Caution! 7 hacked road signs ahead!"
      "Extreme Fire hazard! Don't even fart in the forest"
      (on a church announcement sign) "Staying in bed and shouting Oh God! Does not constitute going to church"

      But aside of that, most hacked signs are some variant of "zombie attack incoming". It's

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why blame a game for an issue that has existed for years/decades. Security via obfuscation is not security. Obfuscation is the equivalent of hiding the key under the doormat, and hoping that nobody looks.

    The flaw is the trust in existing security. Even if it is know quite well that it is flawed, and easily broken. So what is the easiest solution? As opposed to blaming the completely open and flawed security practices that have been know to be flawed for decades, it is easier to place the blame on what has

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      This is also a case where too much security may be counter-productive. It shall be possible to assign any random person at a construction site to go change a text to be suitable for the moment. If not then the wrong text may be displayed leading to worse problems.

      A possibility exists to only allow selection between pre-programmed texts without authentication, but even then it would cause headache in some cases.

    • It's the logic of "if the burglar didn't come that key under the doormat would have been safe".

      Try to get your insurance to follow your logic and accept your claim!

  • by statemachine (840641) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @10:06PM (#47188555)

    Some guy hacked freeway condition signs in LA with cryptic messages and weather reports, and even installed a set of remote-operable bagpipes in one.

    The hacker went to jail later for a series of 419 scams.

  • Hackers gonna hack right? This guy obviously had the necessary skillset to hack "critical infrastructure" before the game released. I mean unless they want us to believe that anybody inspired by a video game can learn how to hack such things in the span of a little over a month, this guy already had the skillset. So are they implying that the game provided the motivation? Last time I checked, hackers didn't need video games to provide them with motivation. Likely the guy is a fan of Watchdogs both because i
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Watch_Dogs. That shit should be hardened already.

  • OMG! Think of the children!

    Won't someone, please, please, regulate these games so that I can know that San Jose is 18 minutes away because they are monitoring the FastTrak in places they said they wouldn't be monitoring the FastTrak, rather than reading an amusing sign for a good 5-10 seconds?

    Or, you know, come up with a video game that espouses my socioreligious value system, but doesn't actually suck to play (you know, like my socioreligious value system), so that kids imitate that instead?

  • by Sprinkels (41102) on Saturday June 07, 2014 @11:42PM (#47188737)
    They use to shoot people after playing video games.
    • The older ones amongst us might still remember that peaceful time of joy and love before computer games taught people how to shoot at each other.

  • People have been modifying the text on these signs for almost a decade. Most companies don't even bother to change the password from the default.

  • by ruir (2709173) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @03:44AM (#47189221)
    To connect vital infra-structure as traffic signs to the Internet-at-large?
    • The same kind of really intelligent people that connect power plants, traffic lights and emergency services to it.

      In other words, traffic signs are by some stretch our least problem when it comes to that shit.

  • Amazing. The game hasn't been out for longer than a week but a Google image search for "hacked sign" produces like a billion pictures of various people immediately going out and doing what they learn from the game!

  • Gah (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    When will these assholes in charge, stop blaming anything besides themselves and their own department, when explaining issues with theis own department/system?

  • How can you hack Closed-Circuit Television cameras?
    If you can access them from the outside, they are clearly not having a Closed Circuit (limited, controlled, separated distribution of signal)

  • Ubisoft must be lapping this up! You can't pay for advertising this good! Congrats!

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