A couple of Israeli students figured out a way to create fake traffic jams using the popular, Google-owned Waze GPS app. And while it sounds silly at first, these kinds of infrastructure hacks could have serious consequences as we depend more and more on data to help us get around town.
The Waze hack is pretty simple. Shir Yadid and Meital Ben-Sinai from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology registered thousands of phony Waze users by impersonating smart phones. Then they simply sent all the fake users to the same GPS location, creating a massive traffic jam in the eyes of other Waze users. While they pulled off the hack just to show how it could be done, a trick like this could ruin the days for thousands of real drivers.
The idea gets really scary if you imagine how fake data could derail our infrastructure system. What if, for instance, hackers decided to target the rail system instead of the roads? It’s one of President Obama’s worst nightmares that a cyber attack could derail a train full of hazardous chemicals. So while a fake traffic jam could be inconvenient, the thought of such a hack brings to mind much darker consequences. [PopSci]