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Electronic road sign hacked in UP

(WLUK) — Signs are almost everywhere you look.

Sometimes they blend in and other times, like the one found early Tuesday morning by the Marquette, Michigan Police Department, they stand out. A captain with the department says when officers noticed the sign, they turned it off immediately.

Officials say someone accessed the security panel.

In Wisconsin, Randy Asman, a traffic engineer, with the DOT says the agency works hard to keep people from tampering with its message boards.

“We want to make sure that we have a unique password that prevents other people from getting into it,” said Asman.

 

He adds, access to the message boards is on a private network and, “Also we have the signs themselves are locked up,” he said.

But let’s say someone managed to change the message.

“Anytime that we want to see what message is being displayed on one of our message boards, we can actually look up that message and see what message is on it,” he said.

The signs would either be turned off or turned away from oncoming traffic.

The DOT says these signs are in place to help keep driers aware and also prevent drivers and construction workers from getting hurt.

Robert Ott is in the sign making business. He’s a senior account executive at Reinhold Sign Service. It sells a lot of the sings you see around the Green Bay area.

Ott admits, some of these signs can be hacked, but he has advice.

“We prefer to have the signs to be set up on a local network,” Ott said.

And, like your computer or phone, Ott recommends a secure password.

“Anything that’s easily thought of is probably not the best idea to use,” he said.

The DOT says the digital message boards you see over the interstates are controlled by the statewide traffic operations center in Milwaukee.

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