'CARS ARE DEATH MACHINES': Someone Keeps Hacking Road Signs In Brooklyn

Today, in Brooklyn.
Photo: Erica Lourd

A week ago, road signs in Brooklyn warning drivers of construction on a major thoroughfare switched from displaying standard messages to slightly more, uh, aggressive screeds. They have not stopped.

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“BAN CAR STOP DRIVING,” read one. “CARS RUIN CITIES” said another further down the same street.

It quickly became clear someone had hacked the variable message signs. Local outlets like Gothamist covered the incident, learning that the signs were not the city’s Department of Transportation, but belonging to the contractors doing the construction work. The fun appeared to be over pretty quickly, as it looked like the contractor reprogrammed the signs in short order.

Alas, the hacker was just getting started. On October 7, a sign on a different road leading to the same construction work trolled drivers with even more aggressive messages like “CARS ARE DEATH MACHINES,” “CARS KILL KIDS,” and “CARS MELT GLACIERS.”

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This morning, Jalopnik staffer Erica Lourd spotted yet another hacked sign on Union Street, this time with a less antagonistic exclamation:

Photo: Erica Lourd
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As many others have pointed out, these signs are ridiculously easy to hack because they all come with the same default password. Clearly the contractor can’t be bothered to change that even after getting hacked on at least three occasions within the span of a week.

According to city data, 159 people have been killed in motor vehicle-related crashes in New York City through September of this year, including 75 pedestrians and 21 cyclists. That number does not include Dalerjon Shahobiddinov, a ten year old boy riding his bike in a Brooklyn neighborhood earlier this week when he was struck and killed by an SUV driven by a driver without a license.

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If you’re the person hacking these road signs or know who is, we’d like to talk to you. Here’s how to securely contact Jalopnik.

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About the author

Aaron Gordon

Senior Reporter, Investigations & Technology, Jalopnik