Earlier this week, a group of hackers managed to get the access credentials to a video billboard in Atlanta, Georgia, and replaced the scheduled advertisements with a pornographic image that took passers-by somewhat by surprise.
While no harm was done – apart from causing mild offence to a number of people – this incident does show just how vulnerable these public systems can be to tampering and external control. With ‘smart cities’ being a current buzzword, just how well-protected are the interconnected systems that are the lifeblood of these new developments? What impact could a hacker have on those systems – for example, influencing traffic control signals, or fire suppression equipment?
Security cannot be added to these systems as an afterthought – it has to be planned and built in from the outset, to protect against unwanted external influence and key functions being compromised. That hacked billboard really is a sign of the times – and we need to heed its warning.