Hackers send fake data to navigation systems

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 25 2007 @ 09:21 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
At a security event, two Italian hackers showed how fake traffic information can be send to GPS navigation systems that use a data feature of FM radio for real-time traffic information:
Using cheap, off-the-shelf hardware, they can broadcast traffic data that will be picked up by cars in about a one-mile radius, the hackers said during a presentation at the CanSecWest event here.

"We can create queues, bad weather, full car parks, overcrowded service areas, accidents, roadwork and so on," Andrea Barisani, chief security engineer at Inverse Path, a security company. "Traffic information displayed on satellite navigation systems is trusted by drivers. Normal people do not think that you can do nasty things."

Barisani and hardware hacker Daniele Bianco discovered that the system used by many navigation aides to get traffic data isn't secured. The data is sent using the Traffic Message Channel (TMC) of the Radio Data System (RDS), a standard way of transmitting data over FM radio also used to display station names and program titles.

With TMC, each traffic incident is sent as a TMC message that consists of an event code, location code and time details. The system is used throughout Western Europe, the U.S. and Australia.


About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.



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