Unknown suspect hacks signs of INDOT subcontractor, displays messages with expletives

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MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Nov. 28, 2014) -- Drivers were greeted by a not so happy holiday message greeted drivers on State Road 37 in Martinsville Friday morning.  Two massive electronic road signs, INDOT officials said were hacked and compromised.

Drivers on State Road 37 alerted FOX59 of the signs, which both contained expletives. One said “Merry F——ing New Year,” and the other said “Slow the F— Down.”

The signs were between Ohio Road and Turkey Track Road in Martinsville.

“It’s kind of funny… I’m sorry,” said one driver.

“Oh, it’d be a terrible distraction.  It’s endangering life,” said another.

“That would be terrible if my kids were in the car. My children or my grandchildren, yeah I wouldn’t be happy about that,” said one woman.

Stopping to take photos, drivers on the road were doing double takes all morning.  The signs’ crude messages first appeared around 5 a.m.

No one knows who did it or why.

In a statement to FOX 59 Will Wingfield, the INDOT spokesperson wrote, “The signs are the responsibility of private traffic control companies, which have subcontracts with highway contractors. INDOT has notified the emergency contacts on the projects in the area.”

The massive signs serve important instructions for drivers through construction zones and a message manipulated could spell disaster for drivers down the road.  Unaware of what the sign was supposed to have told them.

“Just a very quick google search, I found that the owner’s manual for most of those control boxes is online, you can download it,” said Mark Pugh a cybersecurity expert.

Pugh said hacking into the systems for these signs is simple and all the controls to manipulate what the sign says, they’re right on it.

“You just got to be able to push the right buttons to get the right letter up on the screen,” he said.

The signs were hacked by an unknown suspect, a call center employee told our partners at the Indy Star. The signs have since been shut down.

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