From: Larry Scholnick on
Reprinted from The Tech Repulic (

Date: May 27th, 2010
Author: Bill Detwiler

Digital vandals changed an electronic traffic sign on the Palmetto
Expressway in Northwest Miami-Dade county to read “NO LATINOS NO
TACOS.” According to, the sign was altered sometime early
Tuesday morning. By 6 AM, the Florida Highway Patrol and a road crew
were working to reset the sign’s message and had turned the sign away
from the road.

This isn’t the first time someone has hacked the message on a highway
sign. In January 2009, vandals in Austin, Texas changed a sign’s
message to read “ZOMBIES AHEAD.”

Lax physical and poor password securityBoth incidents should drive
home the importance of two fundamental IT security measures–limiting
physical access and changing a systems default administrative

According to, road crews routinely fail to lock the
access panel which protects a sign’s control pad. And even though the
pads are often password protected, many people leave the system’s
default admin password in place. And even if the password has been
changed, digital miscreants may be able to reset the admin password
back to the default with a few keystrokes.

Lax physical security, poor administration, and an easily resettable
password made this highway sign an easy target.
From: Gary V on
Following the last World Cup, a portable VMS on SB I-75 near Detroit
was changed to flash "Viva Italia" along with whatever other message
was there. MDOT were not amused.