Malicious Traffic Alerts

May 4th, 2007

One of the reasons that I stopped actively working on VANET based traffic systems was my belief that it would be difficult to secure the system. For example a malicious business owner could create false messages that there was an accident in front of their competitors store. That owner could expect to get more business as drivers are directed away from the competitors place of business. This problem has not prevented Dash GPS from going forward with a commercial version of such a system.
I believe that my concern has been validated by recent reports that even the centralized traffic systems have been recently hacked. In these reports Italian hackers have shown a way to introduce erroneous messages into the traffic signal sent to GPS devices. It appears that data sent over the Traffic Message Channel (TMC) of the Radio Data System (RDS) does not have any encryption or authentication. It is possible to introduce security and authentication to a centralized system, however securing a distributed peer-to-peer ad-hoc network is an active research area.