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'Godzilla Attack' prompts DMS recommendations

Following recent attacks by computer hackers on highway Dynamic Message Signs (DMS), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the sign’s manufacturer have issued guidelines to city, state and Federal agencies to help prevent further problems. Last month, hackers manipulated the traffic system at San Francisco’s Van Ness Ave to flash a message, ‘Godzilla Attack! Turn Back’, and last week hackers manipulated the highway signs across North Carolina flashing the message, ‘Hack by Sun Hacker’. As a result, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) division issued alert ‘ICS-ALERT-14-155-01A’ referencing a default password in Daktronics’ Vanguard DMS controller that display sign owners should change upon installation. ICS-CERT also communicated mitigation recommendations within the alert, which are commonly known as best practices for all display network owners, although the alert itself is only applicable to transportation agencies using variable or dynamic message signs (VMS/DMS).

In coordination with ICS-CERT, Daktronics and the FHWA have recommended the following: displays should not be on publicly accessible IP addresses; place all displays on a private network or Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to help mitigate any lack of security; disable the telnet, webpage, and web LCD interfaces when not needed; change the default password to a strong password as soon as possible on all installed devices; minimize network exposure for all control system devices and/or systems, and ensure that they are not accessible from the internet; locate system networks and devices behind firewalls, and isolate them from the business network. In a statement, Daktronics said, “United States transportation system device standards require manufacturers of variable or dynamic message signs to meet unique specifications that are not applicable to other Daktronics products and control systems. We appreciate our customers’ continued trust in Daktronics and look forward to discussing any questions or concerns they may have regarding their display equipment.”

June 16, 2014

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