Georgia Tech researchers warn hackers have the ability to gridlock entire cities, like Atlanta by hacking into your car’s computer. The researcher has applied physics in a new study to simulate what it would take for hackers to wreak havoc by randomly stranding cars. They found it wouldn't take much to cause mass mayhem.
“Unlike most of the data breaches we hear about, hacked cars have physical consequences,” said Peter Yunker, who co-led the study and is an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Physics.
Randomly stalling 20 percent of cars during rush hour would mean a total traffic freeze in Manhatten, according to the research. At 20 percent, the city has been broken up into small islands, where you may be able to inch around a few blocks, but no one would be able to move across town. The disruption would be even worse in Atlanta given the way our city is laid out.
“Manhattan has a nice grid, and that makes traffic more efficient. Looking at cities without large grids like Atlanta, Boston, or Los Angeles, and we think hackers could do worse harm because a grid makes you more robust with redundancies to get to the same places down many different routes,” Yunker said.
They warn that even with increasingly tighter cyber defenses, the amount of data breached has soared in the past four years, but objects becoming hackable can convert the rising cyber threat into a potential physical menace.