Watch Dogs Now Proactively Being Blamed For Traffic Sign Hacking By Apparent Pre-Crime Division
from the the-future-is-now dept
Blaming stuff is becoming something of a fad, I guess. If recent reports are to be believed, it’s not all hip and whatnot to blame ghost stories for violence, video games for everything, and specifically Watch Dogs for teaching children how to hack Glenn Beck’s iPad. And speaking of Watch Dogs, the game du jour, it apparently has such a target on its back these days that it’s being blamed for pre-crime. Confused? Let me explain.
Earlier this week, news media in North Carolina reported that at least three highway signs there had apparently been compromised and re-worded to read “Hack by Sun Hacker.” Similar incidents were reported between May 27 and June 2, 2014 in two other states, which spotted variations on that message left by the perpetrator, (including an invitation to chat with him on Twitter).
Now, the article then goes on to note that the blame for this hack in part falls on the way the signs were set up to use SNMP, allowing for a fairly simple password hack to give the hacker control of the signage. The hacker is described as a Saudi that is essentially a tinkerer, not to be counted amongst the more nefarious types of international bad actors. The Multi-State Informational Sharing and Analysis Center report responsible for the above, however, also lets loose with this gem:
“…likely coincides with the May 27, 2014 release of the video game ‘Watch Dogs,’ in which game play revolves around ‘hacking,’ with a focus on hacking critical infrastructure-based electronic devices in particular. Watch Dogs allows players to hack electronic road signs, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs), street lights, cell phones and other systems. On May 27, 2014, the malicious actor posted an image of the game on his Twitter feed, demonstrating his interest in the game, and the compromise of road signs occurs during game play. CIS believes it is likely that a small percentage of Watch Dog players will experiment with compromising computers and electronic systems outside of game play, and that this activity will likely affect SSLT [state, local, tribal and territorial] government systems and Department of Transportation (DOT) systems in particular.”
If you didn’t just throw up, shame on you. What the report does is take a low-level script junkie and website defacer, who was already doing these things over the course of the past couple of years, and blamed his latest prank on Watch Dogs. Then, without missing a beat, it postulates that some unknown percentage of Watch Dogs players will put their controllers down just long enough to go out and try to hack all the things themselves. It’s insane on its face. I don’t recall any percentage of Nintendo players seeking out lines of turtles upon which to leap, nor do I recall any number of children or adults buying up all the hedgehogs at Pet Smart and then rolling them down long and complicated loop-to-loops to see how many rings they could collect. These are the kinds of allegations that only sound like they should make sense because games have become more realistic, but that doesn’t mean they actually do make sense.
And in the end, the focus should be on improving the security of the systems in question, not demonizing entertainment as a scapegoat. The attempt to shift blame is a distraction from the real story: whoever put those road signs in place couldn’t manage to protect them from a prankster. That’s the entire tale, period, paragraph.