Road sign hacking

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]

158 thoughts on “Road sign hacking

  1. This is dangerous and although it may seem humerous, someone could lose their life over this. Most visible applications of these signs are in dangerous areas of the freeway and while most drivers will laugh at this, it only takes one innatentive driver being further distracted by a goofy message and really injures or kills someone, or himself. Please consider this when choosing a sign to attack.

  2. joe, you sound like an asshole. This is a hacker website. Hackers hack things. Thus, even if this was never published, someone else would HACK it and figure it out. dots is not exactly a good password, and I just love the default password reset function. A big fuck you right back, idiot.

  3. Some of the responses on this thread have proven to me that most people are mindless automatons. Cant think outside the box cant have fun cant do anything without confirmation from the mother ship.

    All of our money is going to these state workers who cant think and we wonder why we have to pay so much in taxes…

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

    A traditional security-oriented-hacking resolution; a reasonably tried and true method, no matter how controversial.

    Thoughts on many of the responses here:

    The obvious does not need to be stated for redundancy, even if Microsoft claims that it does.

    Redundancy of this magnitude is re-classified to spam, which is ignored, evidenced by the mods not even taking the time to read/delete the posts.

    Making fun of people on the internet is a humorless and stagnant waste of time, especially when it’s retrograde middle school insults on a technology forum for hacks and design.

    The audience for spam is tiny so why bother entertaining 2 or 6 people when a relevant technology post could be entertaining 20 or 60?


  5. I hope they can firmware-fix the password reset feature. And the DOT should start locking their boxes and picking more secure passwords. I saw 28 Days Later and I sure don’t want Zombies in my neighborhood.

  6. Alright guys, here’s the thing:

    Changing one that warns of construction ahead would probably only be dangerous in some instances.
    How many people see a sign that says “Construction Ahead” and think that they should be more careful? The people who pay attention to the road in the first place. If someone doesn’t see the construction site, they probably wouldn’t see the sign warning of it beforehand, am I right?

  7. “How many people see a sign that says “Construction Ahead” and think that they should be more careful? ”

    Well ideally, a flashing, bright orange changing message would get the attention of drivers…that’s why emergency responders have flashing red and blue lights, and tow trucks and state construction rigs have amber…your eyes naturally latch onto these things. thus, we hope to create driver awareness. it’s really just an all out battle to keep guys on the road safe because it’s horrifically dangerous.

  8. O my god !!!! Seriously I swear some people talk crap!

    First off great hack doubt many people who read this site haven’t thought about something like this; but how many people even knowing how to do it will actually go and do it. I mean the ones that can be bothered to actually do this will no doubt use there common sense not to change anything important. We’re talking a minority of a minority that’s stupid enough to change something important so why worry.

  9. “…I mean the ones that can be bothered to actually do this will no doubt use there common sense not to change anything important…”

    it’s “their”, first off. second, you put a god-awful amount of faith into people in general, i’ll tell you what. people seem to think my stance is “humorless” and “reactionary” and i have “no sense of humor”. that’s simply not true, it’s that i’ve lived long enough to realize that the world is full of dumbasses and our lack of any real threat has allowed the stupid masses to procreate and further dilute our population. why else do laws even exist? if the general population was smart and not idiots, we’d not need so many laws to govern so many things. thus, when quantum_flux says that oh, it’ll be fine, no one will mess with anything that could cause a hazard…well, i just don’t believe it, because there are too many dumbasses in the world that entirely would.

  10. Really frank just really has someone shoved something up your ass that makes you think you high and mighty or are you just smoking something dodgy?

    Yes the world is full of “dumbasses” most of them without a couple of brain cells to rub together and would more likely be watching Nascar or whatever else low IQ holders do all day rather than overstress those few brain cells in an attempt at resetting the message on a sign.

    As for the other nonsense “real threats” like what really, you sound more like a religious preacher talking about the end of the world rather than an educated man as you claim.

    “..why else do laws even exist?if the general population was smart and not idiots, we’d not need so many laws to govern so many things.”

    Come on one second you’re practically saying law’s only exists for the stupid, then saying that we’d have fewer laws if it weren’t for the stupid people. I’m afraid I’ll have to break it to you the law wouldn’t be any different if we were all geniuses after all how many laws are made with consideration to the “idiot” do you ever realise how complicated even a simple law can be?

    “…thus, when quantum_flux says that oh, it’ll be fine, no one will mess with anything that could cause a hazard…well, I just don’t believe it…”

    If you actually read my post you would see that I said “We’re talking a minority of a minority that’s stupid enough to change something important..” far from denying it could happen rather saying its less likely, I mean in the last year or since this article was released how many signs were changed? Out of the ones that were changed how many put people’s lives directly at risk?

    frank this site for the most part; I’m sure there are acceptations to the rule but for the most part it is full of highly intelligent people and they don’t need to be given the lecture:


  11. “Come on one second you’re practically saying law’s only exists for the stupid, then saying that we’d have fewer laws if it weren’t for the stupid people.”

    um…did you actually read what you wrote? i ask because your statement is entirely agreeing with what i said. i say one second laws exist for the stupid, and then the next second i say there would be fewer laws if fewer stupid people were around? that entirely makes sense for my argument, there’s no logic error there. more stupid people equals more law. fewer stupid people equals fewer laws.

    my logic stands, and my argument stands. laws are put in place because greedy idiots or dumbasses do something stupid, and then the powers at be think it’s in everyone’s best interest to make a law to prevent more idiots from doing it again.

    i’m not talking about dumbasses or idiots who watch nascar and drink keystone ice all day long, i’m talking about idiots who come across some information like this and don’t think about safety. readers of hackaday may be smarter than your average bunch due to the nature of the site, but people link to this info and it gets around, and it’s bound to happen that stupid, ignorant (the equivalent of script kiddies) will get a hold of the info and screw something up. am i saying that it’s going to happen without a doubt, and there’s no way that just one sign changed will kill someone? no, and that’s what all of you people responding to me don’t get. i’m not saying that it’s inevitable, i’m saying that it’s possible, and in my line of work (and in general), danger is not something i particularly like to turn my back to. all you people who ask if i have something “up my ass”, why are you so anal centric? it’s cliche and stupid, and you make yourself sound like a junior higher.

    “acceptation” is not the proper word for what you’re describing in your last paragraph. what you’re trying to say is “exception”. and believe me quantum flux, i did read your post. what blows me away is that your grammar, spelling and word selection is sub-par.

  12. • First of I’m going to have to concede here (frank there’s a hint here it’s to actually accept others) my grammar and spellings are terrible but can’t necessarily be helped so please just don’t go there.

    • Second you just don’t seem to get it; laws are very rarely put in place for actions done by your so called stupid people… that said as you keep changing your mind as to what a stupid person is I can only guess that’s its everyone with a low IQ than yours(says in a sarcastic tone).

    • Lastly you seem to want to censor information to stop a few “dumbasses” from potentially doing something stupid; but that in itself is just wrong, after all people learn from their mistakes. Granted if those mistakes cost a life or many lives it’s too high of a price; but think of all the wonderful things we wouldn’t have if people had censored information.

  13. I can’t believe it! Frank was right! I saw one of these road signs yesterday and jumped on the control panel. I used the default password and changed the message to “Drive like a maniac!”. Boom! 4 car pileup before my very eyes. Then, seconds later, Frank’s old boss grabbed me by the collar! “Washington,” he said, “I got the heads up from my old buddy Frank about people like you. Now look what you’ve done to those poor people!”
    Let this be a lesson to you folks, Frank knows of what he speaks. His old boss was totally cool though, he just let me off with a warning

  14. Ooooo I wonder if this works in the UK. Fair enough if its for a truly needed sign then dont play, but for a bit of fun Im sure it would brighten up most normal peoples day

  15. its amazing being the average car driving construction zone speeding retard as frank posts.
    if i seen a sign that read “cheep hookers ahead” or “Nazi zombies” i think it would make me laugh. but as some have said .. leave the ones that will cause someone to be hurt … if the sign is there doing nothing but posting useless information. don’t change much just add to it … its funny the kids that did those signs up they took some of it a little too far but so far I’ve seen no harm no foul. just an annoyance to some funny to other drivers. just so you know all drivers including semi drivers aren’t mindless idiots how do you think most drivers coped BEFORE thoughts fucking computerized signs came out

  16. Frank and his impersonators’ posts were the funniest things I’ve seen all day. And I am definitely hitting up one of these superfluous signs not a mile from my house ASAP!

  17. Hi-
    Looking to hack into a SMC-1000HE but the computer needs a username and password. It was left open but with no password paper laying around. Anyone know of a way to bypass the username/password screen? Thanks.

  18. Hey, I’ve got a killer idea! If you want your signs to be left alone, why not change the password? I mean, seriously…It’s not that hard when you’re part of the business right? If the head guys are too lazy to change the password, then they deserve to get their signs changed.

  19. It’s almost been a year and am still waiting for the cars pillups, idiots invasion and even modified PCMS. So far I haven’t seen any of it.

    Guess people aren’t that stupid or are too stupid. There’s an old saying that says: “We’re all stupid for at least 15 mins a day, wisdom consists of not exceeding this limit”. I’d like to think that it’s the “other” people that are stupid but we’re all deep in it and responsible for this world.


    No, real injuries are no fun. Zombies are thought.

  20. @Sammy
    Advertising boards are more than fair game, but I wouldn’t mind toughing up “Drive Safely” and to “Get OFF the fucking phone!” and “INDICATE lane changes fuckhead!”. My favorites are the NSW signs that tell you what your speed is compared to the limit, and comment accordingly.

    @joe, et al;
    a four-digit “password” is a security joke.

  21. where I come from these roadsigns are used to advertise all sorts of crap –


    now, signs like that HAVE to be PWND.

  22. All of you that consider this hacking are pathetic. Anyone doing this “prank” is NOT a hacker. You are no better then a common criminal destroying private and public property. Stop calling these stupid pranks hacks because you do not know the 1st thing about hacking.

  23. Eye jus whant u all 2 no that ur we todd did for treyeing to hak stuf and i am ur soupereeor. Wen eye gett mi I-lund u kan ull goh fuk urselves. it wil bee jus mee nd tha lokal therd grayed eye giv blo jobz 2!!!!!

  24. what are the consequences for like hacking one of these things and then opening up the control panel and ripping some of the wires out or soemthing like that…my friend did that and i wanted to know what would have happened if he got caught..

  25. I can honestly say, I have never seen one of these signs used for anything vital. They tell of future changes only. Not knowing that there will be road work in a month will not kill someone. Sorry to say it, but scare tactics will not work. No one’s life is at risk.

  26. Only fucking idiots say “sheeple”.

    Once upon a time there was ONE guy who had an original idea. The other 40,000,000 of you are fucking stone dumb nimrods!


    *you’re so fucking lame you even enjoyed the last line!

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