San Antonio's SwRI To Study Likelihood of 'Traffic Hacking'

A quick way to bring a major metropolitan city to its knees would be to cripple its transportation network which, these days, is increasingly connected to the internet and vulnerable to hackers, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

At San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute, a new $750,000 grant from National Acadamies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will address the weaknesses in the management systems that are responsible for keeping the morning commute flowing.

"If you look at the nationwide trend, there's definitely a lot of tampering and things that have been going on, and catching yourself unprepared is not something that any of these centers want to happen," Daniel Zajac tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.

More than 400,000 traffic signal systems across the country have some of connectivity to a network.  This grant will look at whether they are vulnerable to a cyber-attack.

"Someone could tamper with those systems and cause delays or other problems for travelers," he says.

The research being done in San Antonio will also include what is called "white hat" hacking.  Teams will try to break into a city's computer system to see if it's possible to disrupt the transportation network.  

In the future, the grant will also fund research into self-driving and connected cars.  The auto industry is quickly moving forward with production, but there are concerns about hacking and, if there is an accident, who is responsible.

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