Teenager hacks public train control system

A 14-year-old boy in Lodz, Poland allegedly hacked a TV remote control so that he could control parts of his city's tram system. Sounds like he identified the infrared pulses used to override the track switching. Four trams were derailed but nobody and 12 people were injured. From The Register:
"He had converted the television control into a device capable of controlling all the junctions on the line and wrote in the pages of a school exercise book where the best junctions were to move trams around and what signals to change," (said Lodz police spokesman Miroslaw Micor.)

"He treated it like any other schoolboy might a giant train set, but it was lucky nobody was killed...

The youth, described by his teachers as an electronics buff and exemplary student, faces charges at a special juvenile court of endangering public safety.
Link (Thanks, Jason Tester!)



  1. @Antinous, Of course, you’re absolutely right. Fixed. Duh. I must be tired. Thanks. (Stepping away from the blog…)

  2. Hahahaha! That’s so funny! A hacker hurt twelve people! Because everything works better when no one is in charge! Ha!

  3. I’ll give you one guess how many people will be held accountable for designing & deploying a system this easy to exploit for a system this easy to cause injuries with.

  4. N. Welch: How many people? One. To be precise, one inquisitive 14-year-old boy without an exceptional amount of common sense for his age.

  5. @Nato Welch, some engineers from the seventies? Or maybe the fifties? I’ve ridden that tram line, and although I assume the system has been modernised since it was first installed, the experience doesn’t really do much to back that assumption.:P

    Ironically, it looks that modernisation is what made it easier for the teen. Local news says he had constructed an infra-red controller which he used to change the track directions at the turn. On a lot of crossings, this is still done by hand- the tram driver has to stop, get out, use a special tool to change the direction of the turn and then drive on.

    The paper also claims that the boy is a hooligan known to the police since 2003, an infamous menace in his neighbourhood.

  6. The next time that someone argues, “What does it matter if my system is insecure? Nobody would want to hack it!” I shall point them to this story.

  7. @ #7 “a hooligan known to the police since 2003, an infamous menace in his neighbourhood”

    He’s 14 now, so he’s been an infamous hooligan since he was 9? That’s hardcore.

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