How Can We Protect Critical Infrastructure When We Can’t Even Prevent Message Board Hacking?

Lately we've had some experiences in our area with hacking of construction message boards. At first, I figured it must have been some programmers who figured out how to get into the computer system. But after seeing another report of it today, I searched for "how to hack a highway message board" and found there are numerous sites with the instructions telling people how to do this. And it seems fairly simple – I didn't want to promote how here, but you certainly can search for yourself to see what I mean. It also seems like it has been going on for years. So I have to question why our industry has not addressed this. We are so concerned over traffic safety and reducing injuries and deaths, but we must have no provisions or penalties for not ensuring these boards are secure. If our industry cannot even manage to secure a simple message board, how can we possibly hope to ensure critical infrastructure systems like water, electric, and sewer plants are protected?

Graffiti on Electronic Road Sign, Cnr Abbotsford Rd and Montpelier Rd, Bowen Hills, 070114-1

Photo from David Jackmanson




2 Replies to “How Can We Protect Critical Infrastructure When We Can’t Even Prevent Message Board Hacking?”

  1. I have never, ever seen a hacked PMB. Seems like a rather "elementary" invasion. Your pic is of a tagged one? All of our water and sewer infrastructure is under constant surveillance as well. Quite a difference between PMB and true infrastructure resevoirs, tanks and treatment plants. This countries government should spend a little $ on code enforcement and start getting serious about law breakers dumping hazardous materials down storm drains and sewers. 

  2. Thanks so  much for your comments – I had never heard of any either until this year, and now I’ve read about two of them within the last few months that happened around here. While in some cases it might not seem to cause much damage, if the board had a safety-related message, I was thinking it could lead to a traffic death and/or an accident which could involved damage to property all of which is pretty serious.

    Concerning the stormwater issues, from my little corner of the world, it seems like it would also be helpful to provide more training so we are better prepared to monitor and inspect. And you are right about doing something about those dumping. I sometimes see contractors dumping paint down basins in the street. But no one seems to think it is a problem – they act like it is their right to be able to do that and how dare we question them about it.

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