back to article Need a green traffic light all the way home? Easy with insecure street signals, say researchers

Criminals monkeying with traffic lights are a staple of cinema: the 1969 Italian Job and Luc Besson's Taxi are particularly fine examples. Now researchers have demonstrated that fact is much less glamorous – and simpler – than fiction. Youtube clip from the Italian Job In a paper [PDF] delivered to the USENIX Security 2014 …


  1. Ben Burch

    There are strobe light systems too.

    You can actually buy boxes with IR strobe lights that will trigger many traffic lights that look for a particular strobe pattern that emergency vehicles emit when they have their lights going.


  2. Zack Mollusc

    <quote>while it's not possible to force the lamps into weird combinations, such as red and green together, it's possible to cause congestion</quote>

    Well, duh. Traffic lights cause congestion. That is what they do. That and cause envelopes of folding money to appear in town planners' pockets.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the Internet of Things......

    ....and this is only a tiny taste of Things to Come.

    1. Havin_it

      Re: Welcome to the Internet of Things......

      Protip: avoid tasting things that come (whether before or after).

  4. cortland


    FWIW, since 2005 illegal in the US .

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hacking the system to get green lights the whole way in this area is a lot easier. They all use motion sensors programmed to green light for vehicles with strobes flashing at a given frequency, which just so happens to line up with the flashing lights of all the emergency vehicles around here (which, I take it, is the intention in the system). With a little practice you can flash your headlights at the right interval four or five times about a half or 3/4 block before you get to the intersection to get a green light every time.

    Just don't let the cops catch you doing it. Not only is the fine absurdly large ($600 for each light they catch you flashing) but they really don't like it when people screw with a system meant to keep everyone safe.

    A friend of mine got nailed for this to the tune of $2400 and a night in jail. Incidentally I was sitting in the passenger seat at the time and trying very hard to convince the cop I didn't know the driver, or at least didn't want to, after the phrase 'stupid pig' was uttered.


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