The Null Device


Security researchers have found that it is trivially easy to transmit false traffic reports to in-car navigation units. The units look for messages transmitted as digital data piggybacked onto FM radio signals using a protocol known as RDS, and it seems not to have occurred to whoever designed the RDS system that anyone might tamper with these messages; as such, they are transmitted in the clear, and without any sort of authentication. The units also scan the entire FM spectrum, looking for anything that looks like a radio station with a RDS channel containing traffic information. The rest is left as an exercise to the reader:
Through trial and error, they discovered that transmitting certain code numbers translates into certain warnings that are displayed on the satellite navigation system. Some were amusing. One code number alerts users that there's a bull fight in progress. Another one indicates delays due to a parade. But some weren't so funny. One tells users that there has been a terrorist incident. Another indicates a bomb alert and another an air crash.

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