'Air raid on the E40': pranksters hack into vehicle dashboards

'Air raid on the E40': pranksters hack into vehicle dashboards
Flemish traffic authorities said "radio amateurs" were hacking into the traffic information system, and that little could be done about it. Credit: Pxhere

A confusing message about a shootout appeared on the digital dashboards of some drivers on Tuesday, in what authorities say is a repeated incident of hackers breaking into the traffic information system.

The Flemish Traffic Centre said drivers on the E17 highway reported that a message about a "shootout between Kortrijk and Ghent's University hospital" had appeared on their dashboard, according to VRT.

The centre said that it was not the first time people broke into the Traffic Message Channel (TMC) system, which uses FM frequencies to send information on traffic conditions to drivers, using warning categories ranging from "avalanche" to "cricket match."

In March, drivers between Ghent and Brussels were startled when a message warning them about "an air raid on the E40 highway between Aalst and kilometre marker 30" popped up on their dashboards.

"It has been happening for years and there is little to be done about it," Peter Bruyninckx of the traffic centre said, since hackers were hard to track down.

According to Bruyninckx, "radio amateurs" with the equipment necessary to connect to a local transmission tower were likely to blame, and that the messages often disappeared from dashboards once the drivers sped away from the towers.

Bruyninckx said that the incidents happened more often during the holiday period, suggesting that drivers should simply ignore the messages from the "silly pranksters."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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