Hacked Highways? Connected Cars Could Gridlock Entire Cities, Study Warns

by | Jul 31, 2019 | Headline News | 22 comments

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    This article was originally published by  John Anderer at Activist Post. 

    Cybersecurity has quickly become a priority for large corporations, businesses, and individuals alike in recent years. It seems like another major data breach is being reported every other week, and personal online accounts are often compromised by malicious actors. Now, a new study out of the Georgia Institute of Technology has found that hackers may soon be able to cause major traffic problems in the real world by hacking and stranding internet-connected cars.

    The study’s authors theorize that hackers would only have to shut down a portion of cars on the road in a busy city like Manhattan during rush hour to completely shut down traffic and gridlock the city. Researchers hope that their findings will spark a more detailed analysis of automotive cybersecurity, especially moving forward as cars become more and more high tech.

    “Unlike most of the data breaches we hear about, hacked cars have physical consequences,” says co-author Peter Yunker in a release.

    Yunker and his team say that right now the automotive cybersecurity sector is focusing too much on hacks that target one car, and they need to consider the possibility that a higher number of cars being hacked at the same time could lead to mayhem.

    “With cars, one of the worrying things is that currently there is effectively one central computing system, and a lot runs through it. You don’t necessarily have separate systems to run your car and run your satellite radio. If you can get into one, you may be able to get into the other,” explains co-author Jesse Silverberg.

    The research team ran simulations on Manhattan and found they were able to bring all traffic to a complete freeze by randomly stalling 20% of the cars on the road at rush hour. Hacking just 10% of cars on the road would stop traffic enough to prevent emergency vehicles from moving around.

    “At 20 percent, the city has been broken up into small islands, where you may be able to inch around a few blocks, but no one would be able to move across town,” says graduate research assistant David Yanni.

    Researchers say that Manhattan is actually a less than ideal target for car hackers, and more damage may be done with fewer cars in other cities.

    “Manhattan has a nice grid, and that makes traffic more efficient. Looking at cities without large grids like Atlanta, Boston, or Los Angeles, and we think hackers could do worse harm because a grid makes you more robust with redundancies to get to the same places down many different routes,” Yunker explains.

    Furthermore, the study’s authors say they did not account for any outside factors, such as traffic spillover from other blocked streets or public panic when compiling their findings. With this in mind, they say that it’s likely that significantly less than 20% of all cars would be needed to gridlock a city and cause a panic.

    The study is published in the journal Physical Review E.


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      1. Inconvenient interest rates and brown outs are caused, on purpose, by state interests.

        If you’ve built a back door into the system — no matter who uses that — don’t blame the hacker.

        • Or just sell a bunch of land rovers and they will breakdown post haste and fook it all up!

          • Inefficiency is designed, into the system.

            Nevermind. (sarc) I mean, some scapegoat did it.

            There are people who I do not like and will never like, but let’s built it right.

      2. I was told many years ago that all computers are built with back doors in them. Remember, all electronic comms are intercepted by the government. And anyone can hack the government. Now, I read that there are 140 satellites looking down on the US and they are owned by private entities. They track everyone in the US and sell the info to marketers, and anyone who wants the info. Oh, and the government gets that info, also. Freedom?

        • If I recall the name correctly, that would be the wikileaks dumbo drops disclosure. And if you never looked through the wikileaks stratfor or whatever secret agent disclosure searchable database, wow Billy! They’re like everywhere, posing as maids, janitors, bud tenders, hair dressers, musicians. Spies for hire.

          Did I ever tell you about the time someone tried to take my life by purposefully locking a remote integrated little eco car’s brakes up in the lane next to me on the highway? The car like did a 360 at 70mph and I saw the driver desperately trying to get control and his front tires smoked when they suddenly locked up. He came right into my land and I hit the gas, hugged the curb, and barely made it past the fast lane. It was open sailing for the next half hour and although no actual wreck happened, someone did eventually catch up with me, take a photo of me, and then split off. Reasons why when I’m driving, if there is a cell phone with me, I often take the battery out. Can it be proven? No. Did it actually happen? Yes. Do you believe in coincidences? Did you catch the off the wall livestream vid of that truck crashing into Alex Jones car at the gas station, him jumping back and almost getting crushed? Did it happen? Yes. Was it an accident? Who knows. Quite interesting it was cought on a dash cam though if you ask me.

          A friend of liberty is a friend of mine.

      3. The TRUE purpose is to Track-Trace-Surveillance-Snitch, of your Every move.

        Currently Cities refuse to keep trash-junk, off the road. Currently Cities refuse to repair potholes.
        Now they want to spend BILLIONS on “Smart Streets”. Nuts. Insane.

        Dallas roads are WORSE than many third world countries that uncle sam sent us to. We now drive trucks and SUV as road defense against the NutJobs: ROAD RAGED- drugged up-device distracted-drunk-cell phone addicted, impatient, DANGEROUS, careless, demolition drivers. Dangerous careless morons using vehicles as a weapon, and they have guns.

        This is Texas. So All the idiots have guns. They also don’t like you going the speed limit. Several innocent people each year, have been murdered for doing nothing but going down the road at speed limit. Driving is Dangerous. I have felt much safer in combat zones than on Dallas roads. No exaggeration.

        • “I’ve got to be careful crossing the road these days.” Don’t worry about the internet of things and remote vehicles. It all breaks down when one node goes out. They can disguise them like cactuses or trees or whatever, but emf field readers are only 10 buckaroos on amazonian. The achilles heel is that such node based repeat transfer chain of informational infrastructure setups are only as powerful as the whole, and chains are easily broken. Might just accidentally crush one with the old iron bumper one day, if I happen to be changing the am radio channel while I’m driving. The world is what we make it. How well would those things work if someone glued aluminum foil all around it?

      4. Smart roads and smart cars are Foolish/Dangerous.
        Few years ago, Navy friend of mine had job with Tesla, road testing Tesla self driving cars. He survived combat all over the world. To DIE in a self driving Tesla while watching “Harry Potter” on entertainment system. WTF? Death has a bad sense of ironic humor.

        Bet he is really pissed going out that way. Didn’t even get to finish a bad movie! RIP -God Bless him.
        This self drive, smart street, technology is a bad idea.

      5. People who worked in telecom, in the 80-90’s, got all the free magazines they wanted from vendors.

        Not only do these systems have backdoors, they would be published on the release of the newer model.

        Now, you don’t need police powers to access hidden pics on the cell phone. You don’t need to be a hacker or a security firm, to do bleachbit, deleted files, or trail somebody. It’s a free app.

        If you don’t like it, don’t make it this way.

        • People find tech all mysterious and such, because they don’t understand the basic principals and how tech nerds actually operate.

          It’s an outsourcing game, a company hires a tech person to code something, they implement the system, and profit from tech fees indefinitely. All upgrades are merely downgrades or somehow restructuring codec or access rights to generate more profit, from what was previously freeware open code access. It’s a per diem game to excercize the power of micro transactions.

          That being said, this is the nature of tech, it’s just a tool and you don’t need to be ansi certified to understand how to twist a wrench, or access the reg edit database to turn an authentication token on. Why bother when there is an alternative copy cat on every digital corner. Tech is so plentiful that they were no longer able to even give it away without some clever branding.

          Cell phone zombies ahead. Honey, let’s get off this road and take a different route. I love mapsco map books, I pay for it once and it lasts decades. Digital is for the birds.

          • We keep seeing a control panel or a legal privilege, etc, and believing that some hack or breech or trick occurred.

            It’s designed into the system, to work that way — not witchcraft.

      6. Well shit! Carry a scooter in yer trunk or truck? Not much of an issue here, you can drive around cars on the shoulder of the highway. In town people with big trucks would just shove them out of the way. City poople would have a bad day for sure. If ya don’t like my driving, stay off the sidewalk!

        • Gen,
          You stole my favorite line
          “If ya don’t like my driving, stay off the sidewalk!”
          I learned how to drive on Los Angeles Freeways.
          I drove in Seattle traffic for over 21 years.
          And I have driven on the sidewalk.
          That is what 4WD trucks are for.
          Actually I’m a very safe driver, only two tickets in
          45 years of driving, including 1000 cc motorcycles.

          • I think I have had 3 tickets in the last 30 years. Before that probably 20 lol. But that was in Idaho “The Police State”.
            I had a bumper sticker on my landcruiser that said, “Don’t like my driving? Dial 1-800-EAT SHIT!”
            Better nail yer pants down and put yer helmet on, maybe bunk up with Mary Ann and Ginger and ride the storm out.

            • Genius and Rellik, I forgot to mention the Dodge I recently bought is 4WD so I do have other ‘options’ when it comes to getting around people. Where there’s a will there’s a way, LOL.

              • Git ya sum 10 ply tires and skid plates! Maybe a 6 inch tube steel bumper too! 😛

                • Solid state bumpers and skid plates, hydrolic controlled non integrated systems, and easily shieldable obd computers come standard on 90’s models.

                  Ideally, at this stage of the game, you’re better off refurbishing an older 90’s, early half 2000’s model. If we could have seen this coming down the tracks, which most did not, we’d have saved a lot of those 80’s vehicles to the point that aftermarket parts demand would have remained robust and you could actually still get parts.

                  That’s what cash for clunkers was all about, forcing the transition to controllable remote based tech and departing from hydrolic pressure based systems. Anything 2005 or newer, well most of them, can be disabled with a switch remotely. If you’re buying new, you’re doing it wrong. Refurb your 90’s vehicle today, and if you’re lucky, you can still get an all new axle, drive train, and upholstery set from the dealer for a total figure that is still far less than half of equivalent new. Besides, repair costs are cheaper and they have more character.

            • Gen,
              I’m supposed to load up my steer and take it to the slaughterhouse on 8/5 when Flossie is due to hit as a tropical storm.
              It looks like our local waters are still too cold to keep a hurricane fed properly. Appointments for processing are so hard to get, I’m going to get that steer there no matter what. It’s about a 50 mile trip one way.
              Island living, you have to love it!
              My experience with Idaho is you really have to try hard to get a ticket there. I have close family that lives there. You ever play basket ball in cowboy boots? My best shot was a Rockchuck
              (about the size of my wifes cat) at 350 yards with a Ruger .223 rifle that I had never used before that weekend.

              • That’s some high falutin’ shootin’ pardner! What part of ID were you in? Must have been far away from a town if it wasn’t swarming with cops lol. Last time I was there even the liberals were bchin’ about all the cops.

                At least half of your trip will be safer with the steer giving you more weight eh? That’s a lot of beef, do you trade some for other stuff?

                • Gen,
                  Twin falls, Jerome area.
                  For you other readers, Twin is where
                  Evil Knevil(sp?) failed to jump the
                  Snake river.

                  I grow big cows.
                  Angus-Charolais mix.
                  Organic Grass fed.
                  My last was over #850
                  hanging weight.
                  My final costs are about
                  $1.70 a pound in the freezer.
                  for the entire animal. Steaks,
                  roasts, hamburger, bones
                  hooves et al, as I said in an
                  earlier comment, my dogs eat good.
                  We all eat good.
                  We’ll probably breed my Heifer
                  named “Luna” this year as she
                  is old enough. She is probably good
                  for 15 calf’s for her lifetime.
                  Not exactly what most people
                  think of what Hawaii is.

                  • I’m glad to hear you feed your dogs REAL food! I would mortgage the house to save our doggie. Like you my days are numbered and I want my boy with me at all cost.

                    HA! I drove up 93 through Nevada one time and I didn’t get 5 miles over the border and got pulled over by a state pig! I didn’t do anything wrong either! His lame assed excuse was he couldn’t read my plate because it was dirty. After about 20 minutes of BS he let me go. Thats the idaho way, pull you over (if you have out of state plates) and (if you have witnesses) do nothing wrong, have to let you go. Oh man I have a ton of fucked up cop stories about idaho!

                    I have a few relatives that still live there and I tell you what, (southeast) Idaho is the biggest shithole ever! Pocatello has taxed all the industry away for good. Same with every other industry that was ever in that county. Other areas in SE Idaho are saturated in pigs as is central Idaho. Police I like, PIGS I HATE!

      7. Sounds like the most recent Furious 7 movies…..

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