CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The roadway sensors used to help guide traffic reports reads data emitted by cars. However, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning about this practice.
These roadway sensors actually pick up signals from bluetooth equipment on your car and use it to count cars.
WBTV's cyber expert, Theresa Payton explains that the data is not protected like it should be so hackers could eavesdrop on the system:
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM AND IS IT BEING FIXED?
1. A hacker could break into the traffic monitoring system and read your traffic.
2. The good news? First of all, this vulnerability was found by the good guys. Researchers from the University of California at San Diego and the University of Michigan found the issue and alerted the industry so they could fix it.
3.The companies that create software for monitoring are taking notice and making changes to better protect your driving habits.
4. There are no confirmed hacks of this vulnerability It is not known if hackers have actually taken advantage of this breach but often it's just a matter of time or the hackers are so skilled and stealthy, we just do not ever know they are there.
HOW THE SYSTEMS AND THE HACK COULD WORK:
1. Newer cars have a unique ID number called a MAC address that is part of your Bluetooth system
2. Your car emits this MAC address "out loud" in a broadcast to your other equipment on board like your cell phone. The problem is, it also emits it to ANYTHING outside your car like the traffic sensors on the highway.
3. Sensors grab the MAC address as you drive by and can tell how many times you've been by, how many other cars (MAC addresses) are close to you, and even notes your speed.
PROTECTION IS LACKING:
1. Car manufacturers, phone manufacturers, tablets are more need to pay attention to the practice of "bluesnarfing". Bluesnarfing is when criminals eavesdrop on bluetooth broadcast messages. Ask your manufacturer how they protect your bluetooth traffic.
2. Traffic sensors also need to heed these warnings from the researchers - and so far, they say they are!
WORD OF THE WEEK:
SPEAK2TWEET: In events where the Internet is completely down, Google and Twitter, created Speak-to-tweet to give victims in an area a way to get their message out by using a simple phone call.