Watch Dogs In Real Life: How Hackers Took Control Of LA's Traffic

By William Usher 2014-05-27 13:36:51 discussion comments
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Watch Dogs is now available. The game is receiving generally positive reviews from most major outlets who have managed to get their hands on the title and churn out a timely review. Of course, there are a few drawbacks to the game's design, in particular the note of having repetitive missions.

Nevertheless, the act of bringing a city to its knees through the simple mechanism of a smartphone device is a thrilling and frightening concept. The crazy part about it is that there was an incident that happened in real life that mirrored something you would have expected from right out of Ubisoft's open-world hacktion title.

Motherboard has a short multi-part documentary about a Los Angeles traffic incident that occurred back in 2009 involving several days of gridlock caused by someone tampering with the traffic control system.

While it's not quite ctOS, the name of the central security and control software is called ATSAC, also known as the Automated Traffic System and Control Center. This security system was compromised and several key areas in L.A.'s traffic grid were complete locked down for several days, creating gridlock.

Two of the engineers working within the field – one of which was key in developing the system – were accused of having tampered with the traffic flow as a way of taking part in a workers' strike movement.

Of course, the engineers denied involvement, but it doesn't detract from the fact that the system was compromised and a miniature version of some Aiden-style ctOS hacking had taken place that had L.A.'s streets in more impenetrable gridlock than the Cincinnati Bengals' defense strategy.

The funny part about it is that prevention of these systems is never a surefire thing, and as mentioned throughout the short documentary, there's always going to be someone attempting to trump the system. Or at least, it was best said by James Moore, the director of transportation and engineering program at USC, where he stated that...
“Every time you introduce new technology, you have produced new vulnerabilities, and some miserable son of a bitch out there is going to try to exploit that. It's just human nature.”

I couldn't have said it better myself... but if I did attempt to say it myself, I would definitely try to say it better.

Anyway, this little lesson in central control mechanisms and software vulnerability teaches us one thing: It's a darn good thing there's no cities that are operated by one OS that can be exploited and hacked just like in Watch Dogs. Man, could you imagine all the a-holish things you could do witht hat kind of power at your fingertips? It's best kept in fiction.

You can look for Watch Dogs on a retailer shelf near you for the new-gen twins, the old-school hags and PC. For more information on the game feel free to take a look at the official website..
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