Road sign hacking

zonbix

We’ve all seen these on the side of the road and wondered how we could change the message. It turns out that it is actually pretty easy. There’s a keypad inside for programming that is often still set with a default password of “DOTS”. Even if the password has been changed, you can reset it right there pretty quickly. We shouldn’t even need to warn you that it is illegal to tamper with these, so unless there really are zombies ahead, you probably shouldn’t mess with it.

[via Neatorama]

Comments

  1. ScriptKiddie says:

    I used to work for a manufacturer of traffic signs (the big, honking stationary signs) as a software tester. As a tester, I had access to the database containing the dial-in numbers for a hundred or so signs. I always wanted to change them all to something funny (the messages were never important), but I didn’t have the balls.

  2. nitori says:

    Usually they place other non electronic signs along with the marquee sign.
    You usually see warning signs about 1/4 mile before entering the the construction site.
    If the only warning is the marquee sign then someone is doing something very wrong.
    If you don’t want them messed with then lock the thing but still there should be orange warning signs as well since these can’t get dead batteries etc.
    BTW frank everyone trolls you because you make yourself a good target by provoking them farther.
    Though I wasn’t trolling you and I said I would never mess with a sign that has safety warnings even though if things were done right there would be a half dozen other warning signs and a mess of traffic cones telling everyone this is a construction zone.
    I was trolling bob because he is an ass.

  3. Lost says:

    Haha, we need to do that for our site

  4. Frank says:

    “I’m going to personally screw up every single one of these signs I find with “Frank sucks” and “Fuck Frank” until he gets fired or manually retired from his job.

    THANKS FRANK!”

    you’re a dumbass if you think my name is actually frank. you think i’d actually post with my real name, on a public forum? are you serious?

    my first post was informative on why this was a bad thing to do, why it could be fatal. my subsequent posts were to stomp the asses of all the idiots who dare defy me, with 100% success rate. so far, i’m still the winner.

  5. Frank says:

    “Actually, I think that avoiding talking about such an obvious and stupid security flaw is closer to your analogy. It’s a very poor analogy, but still. perhaps it’s like leaving bullets in the gun and saying, “hey don’t tell that kid how to fire it”. Still a VERY poor analogy, but better use than your first attempt.”

    no, not actually. am i defending the idiocy of system-wide passwords being easy to defeat? of course not, that’s ridiculous. you seem to think i’m ignorant or not in touch with reality…that couldn’t be farther from the truth. all i am saying is that hey, those signs aren’t just something to hack, they’re one line of defense for safety and one line of defense for public information. don’t fuck with them, that’s not innocent fun, that’s quite the opposite. end of discussion.

  6. Frank says:

    “Usually they place other non electronic signs along with the marquee sign.
    You usually see warning signs about 1/4 mile before entering the the construction site.”

    well, detective dipshit is on the case ready to expose everything. do tell, sir, what are the typical chances “non electronic signs” are placed “along with the marquee sign” since you say they are “usually” placed?

    beyond that, you “usually see” warning signs “about” a 1/4 mile away…do tell again, what are the tolerance for this? your odometer while fucking with your stereo? what’s the high and low tolerance for such a measurement?

    oh, wait…”BTW frank everyone trolls you because you make yourself a good target by provoking them farther.” no, you fucktards. no one is trolling me. i give you the truth and insight that no one else has. you scurry along because you’re so embarrassed by your lack of insight. don’t blame the messenger, dumbfuck.

    let’s move on to others.

    “I agree that the information should be public so that everyone knows about the problem. ”

    OH THANK GOD. YOU AGREE. FINALLY, I CAN REST. oh wait, you’re still a dumbass. you fail. go back to your psychology major and stop faking that you’re you’re persuing a major in any science field.

    “hmm… one of these signs with a solar panel has been pretty much abandoned on a highway near me…”

    oh yeah. a $20,000 piece of equipment has been “abandoned”. in this day in age, there is so much extra money floating around that various departments of transportation just say “FUCK IT, WE HAVE TOO MUCH SHIT! LET’S ABANDON HALF OF IT FOR YOUR OWN SAKE”. no, you fucktard, that’s not how it works. you’re the same person who passes people on streets in your car only to be stopped at the same stoplight as the person you passed, but you saved five seconds by getting there more quickly! there are such things as “programs” and “contracts”. these can be…are you ready for a big, big word?…”long term”. OOOHH! maybe that PCMS was put there for awhile…maybe it’s part of a bigger program, stupid as it sounds…

    seriously. i’m going to move to an island and build a huge wall around it so when you fucktards endure nuclear war and come to my place that is so conveniently placed away from everything, i will turn you down. every fucking last one of you…i will judge your stupid ass life and require you to life the rest of your pathetic, stupid-ass existances amongst radioactivity, hoping most of all that it sterilizes all of you and you cannot contaminate the rest of the world.

    oh, you think “trolling” me is what you’re doing? that you’re worthy of calling your action a stupid made up participle? i vanquish every last fucking one of you!

  7. bob smith says:

    Frank,

    I respectfully request that if you are going to continue to post as the authoritative answer to DOT electronic signs, please learn how to spell.

    BOB.SMITH

  8. Orv says:

    I’d be more upset about people hacking these signs if they ever provided useful information. 9 times out of 10 they’re saying something like “BUCKLE UP.” Either that or you’re sitting in stop-and-go traffic for 20 minutes when you come to a sign that says “DELAYS AHEAD”. Gee, thanks for the warning.

  9. Yale says:

    Frank. Tell your buddies to change the passwords. Problem solved.

  10. jesse says:

    lock the boxes.
    use individual passwords.
    teach your mojados how to call a number and have someone at that number tell them the password for that sign.
    problem solved.

  11. spacecoyote says:

    “you’re a dumbass if you think my name is actually frank. you think i’d actually post with my real name, on a public forum?”

    translation: “oh fuck I shouldn’t have used my real name!”

  12. Daryl says:

    all i can say is “zomg pwnies!”

    and yeah, find a sign that’s not showing life saving info if you must mess with it. but still… i wonder if the wireless signals permanent highway signs use is vulnerable… would be nice to see a sign that says:

    Nashville…15 minutes
    Hell……..Everywhere

  13. Frank says:

    translation: “oh fuck I shouldn’t have used my real name!”

    hahaha, entirely not true. beyond that, there are fifty states in the union, and more than one frank in each dot. i doubt it would be an effective tool since you don’t even have a last name to go by. “oh fuck”? hardly, dude.

    advertising signs are of course not anything that is going to be a safety issue so have at it. just don’t mess with the ones that could be safety issues.

    as far as the signs that say “delay ahead” amongst traffic…sometimes excess traffic comes in and things back up. that happens when truckers and trailers have to go up hills but have slowed down first…it’s never fun to deal with, but keep in mind that you’re going through a construction area for but a fraction of the time of day, and a fraction of the time of the week. no organization is perfect, but believe me, at least *some* of the people who do those signs have your best interests in mind.

  14. I should probably get a real job since I can apparently operate a computer without smashing it with a sledgehammer…

    Maybe I can make enough money to get this large stick removed from my humorless ass :)

  15. spacecoyote says:

    hey fat-fuck-who-never-worked-a-day-in-his-life, it’s not cool to make fun of laborers.

  16. polymath says:

    well somebody must have read this as soon as it posted. the local news in Austin TX made a pretty big deal about some one hacking two of these signs. I think the message read “Danger, zombies ahead!!! Move to colder climates!!!” or something like that. Whats really funny is the city has no idea how it happened or “how could some one possibly do this?”

  17. larry says:

    There is an article on CNN about this now in texas.

  18. me says:

    Also made national TV, saw it on ‘Today’ this morning. Laughed when I saw the video. And of course I knew *exactly* where they got the idea from…

  19. shiza says:

    OMFG.

    i saw the message and it said “BEWARE NAZI ZOMBIE AHEAD PROCEED WITH CAUTION”.

    GOVERNMENT HACKERS
    0 1
    EPIC WIN

  20. ohbilly says:

    ok guys this is just getting fucking rediculous so just shut the fuck up and go on with your lives. I guess that dumb funny picture caption i saw was true.

    “fighting over the internet is like being in the special olympics, even if you win your still retarded…”

  21. frank says:

    HAHAHA DISREGARD THAT, I SUCK COCKS

  22. dude says:

    from frank above:
    “seriously. i’m going to move to an island and build a huge wall around it so when you fucktards endure nuclear war and come to my place that is so conveniently placed away from everything, i will turn you down. every fucking last one of you…i will judge your stupid ass life and require you to life the rest of your pathetic, stupid-ass existances amongst radioactivity, hoping most of all that it sterilizes all of you and you cannot contaminate the rest of the world.

    oh, you think “trolling” me is what you’re doing? that you’re worthy of calling your action a stupid made up participle? i vanquish every last fucking one of you!”

    haha holy shit dude. your a grown man vanquishing people. CLEARLY you’ve been trolled.

  23. anon says:
  24. fred says:

    @FRANK

    How about fixing your fucking signs with a proper password or better locks instead of whining like a bitch? I hope someone runs your lame ass over and then finishes off your gay little ‘crew’.

  25. Frank says:

    “ok guys this is just getting fucking rediculous so just shut the fuck up and go on with your lives. I guess that dumb funny picture caption i saw was true.”

    your spelling atrocities are getting ridiculous, so go ahead and get some remedial english classes taken care of before you dare to cross the almighty frank.

    seriously guys, you think i’m being “trolled” and i don’t get it? seriously? besides the neanderthal that just posted above that i had to take care of, you think only your side of the conversation can have fun? i’m talking about building an island fortress and vanquishing people and you don’t get that i’m being a little over the top just for the sake of being hilarious? if you’re so dense that you can’t figure that out, then you’re the stupid ones. i’m serious about safety, don’t screw with signs that are meant as such. if it’s an advertisement, have at it.

    who do you think i am? some guy who wandered over hackaday’s page and am going to threaten “legal action” or some stupid nonsense like that, just as soon as i’m done shutting down the best page in the universe by maddox? hardly, dude. i’m 25 years old and an electrical engineering student, a daily reader of hackaday, and one of my loftiest goals would be to think of something worthy of hackaday post.

    if you think you’ve “gotten” me, you’re the most dense idiot on the internets.

  26. Frank says:

    “How about fixing your fucking signs with a proper password or better locks instead of whining like a bitch? I hope someone runs your lame ass over and then finishes off your gay little ‘crew’.”

    well, dumbass, let’s go over a few things. first, my job and responsibility is not the care or maintenance of pcms owned by the agency i work for, and if you would have actually read above, i already mentioned i brought this up to my boss as something to be aware of for the pcms actually owned and operated by the agency. second, at least in the state that i work in, the pcms is not the property of the state when in a construction zone, it’s the property of the subcontractor who was included in the bid by the primary contractor who is in charge of traffic management.

    second, you really hope that i get killed while working, and that the rest of the guys get killed too? what kind of idiot are you? do you watch nascar? do you think you’ve made the internets right after you posted? you’re one of the guys i’m going to vanquish, personally, and with great prejudice!

  27. Sammy says:

    @ anon

    ….oh shit ! It has begun !

  28. God says:

    Frank said”you’re one of the guys i’m going to vanquish, personally, and with great prejudice!”

    LOL @ Frank! Vanquish?! What are you some world of warcraft playing dweeb? LOL!

  29. Frank says:

    “LOL @ Frank! Vanquish?! What are you some world of warcraft playing dweeb? LOL!”

    haha, no, i do not play world of warcraft, nor have i ever. i just happen to have an epic vocabulary from years of listening to nordic metal.

  30. frank says:

    hahahah, disregard that, i still suck cocks

  31. m3ckf4c3 says:

    omg. I lmao when I happened across this article today….

    http://www.wral.com/news/national_world/national/video/4427907/

    I was just reading the local news and happened to see a photo of a road sign displaying zombies ahead!

    As soon as I saw it I realized that someone here must have done it. It’s funny how they make it out like there are crazy hackers “hacking” into their system. Even though it’s a simple password to gain access.

  32. Sammy says:

    *sigh* I wonder how long it will be an till it reaches Australia…

  33. O.G. Loc says:

    I’ma totally do this shit. Gather up tha crew and hit up the sign on the corner in my town.

    The sign does not say anything useful. There are cones around it, the road’s traffic never exceeds 40 mph, there is a traffic light 20 feet away, and I plan to leave the (unneccessary) “CONSTRUCTION AHEAD” message up.
    Besides, my town’s all Asians, no one can read English anyway. And I’m pretty sure most people that drive past do so every day, and they will know about the sign and tiny construction site which has been up for at least a month.

    Location and time not disclosed.
    Can’t figure out what to put though.. I don’t wanna put ZOMBIES AHEAD.. maybe “EIFFEL TOWER, 1.5 MILES”?

  34. james says:

    seems these guys caused a fuss with officials in Austin….

    http://news.aol.com/news-quiz

  35. mang says:

    Wouldnt rly consider changing text on a portable road sign to be a hack. I live outside of a Columbus, a decent sized city, and pass large permanant electronic signs on a daily basis. Usuallu these signs post msgs that give you an estimate on the time it takes to travel to certain exits, but most often all they display is Please Dont Drink And Drive. Only once have i seen these signs used for anything i would consider important, and that was an Amber Alert. Now If I was driving downtown and saw one of those signs and it read “The Guy Riding your ass works for the IRS” I would be most amused.

  36. Louis II says:

    Uh… “vanquish” is a real word, created by people who weren’t video game designers. There is a world outside of the electronic fantasy world… …one where words come from.

    This “hack” is kind of funny… but kind of dangerous. I think the warning in the first post says that. Really, though, is this a “hack” or simply a very simple exploit, like going past a guarded (but unlocked) door with one guard who’s taking a piss break with out a replacement?

    The real question is… why bother “hacking” one, when you could build your own…. some thing like this:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Dot-Matrix-Display/

    Peace!

  37. ikka says:

    frank is a douche. he should reevaluate his meaningless life.

  38. anon says:

    Hopefully no one gets stupid and puts like higher speed limit signs. Or Disease control messages

  39. frank says:

    I apologize for being a cunt. please stick a cock firmly in my sphincter.

  40. Frank says:

    though many try, no one can possibly ghost-write for me in my posts…it’s because i’m that good, and you are not. you all fail.

    and thanks, louis ii, for mentioning your opinion on the word “vanquish”.

  41. Steve says:

    Ok now I think that the signs that say things to do with keeping people safe shouldn’t be changed. But I know a few around where I live where there are signs saying s**t like “buy 1 mattress and get a second one half price!” Any advertising material on these signs, in my opinion, are ok to be changed. But not the ones to do with roadworks like “shoulder closed”

  42. Alex says:

    anyone know the solartec password???? we dont have ADDCO on the westcoast……

  43. john says:

    Frank your a silly little faggot. Its fun reading your not so witty comments that try to justify you’re dumb opinion.

    Nobody is going to change the signs to “aim for franks stupid ass– he’s the big hairy cunt worth 100000 points”.

    If you’re so adamently opposed to the manipulation of the signs, protest for increased security measures. You’re first post was enlightening enough after that I felt like my IQ significantly dropped by reading your posts.

    Just my .02

  44. me says:

    And now one in Indiana. This one warned of Raptors Ahead.

    Can’t you guys think of somethink fresh to put on the signs?

  45. oler says:

    put sign=hacked password dots on it
    they wil be forced changing it then when everybody sees it

  46. Frank says:

    Frank your a silly little faggot. Its fun reading your not so witty comments that try to justify you’re dumb opinion.

    once again, another nascar watching idiot who doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re. go back and take a remedial english course. you fail.

  47. frank says:

    Disregard that i suck cocks!

  48. mudkipz says:

    “Also apparently from these posts it seems people who work for the state are all assholes and humorless pieces of shit.”
    this is true

  49. natrix says:

    @ bob

    I hope you and all of your union buddies die in a fire.

    Hacking these signs is wrong 99% of the time and could potentially hurt someone, but you don’t have to bring up the goddamn unions.

  50. danmar says:

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