[ISN] Crooks Cause Chilean Car Chaos

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Apr 29 2002 - 02:22:48 PDT

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    By Ricardo Sametband 
    2:00 a.m. April 26, 2002 PDT 
    New Yorkers think they have traffic jams, but sorting them out is
    child's play compared to what Chilean commuters awoke to on Thursday
    -- a morning of mayhem and chaos.
    In Santiago de Chile, 800 of the city's 1,800 traffic lights went
    haywire after thieves stole 15 PCs and 2 servers from the Unidad
    Operativa de Control de Tránsito (UOCT), the office that manages the
    traffic flow of the city.
    Without the computer system, the traffic lights continued working but
    at their own pace, losing all synchronization between one crossroad
    and the others. Five million citizens were in fear of crossing the
    streets, whether on foot or by car.
    The thieves that broke into the offices of the UOCT, late at night
    last Wednesday, seem to have had a good knowledge of the place. They
    entered the building through the kitchen in the backyard, deactivated
    the alarm system and disconnected security cameras.
    But while stealing the goods, valued at US$90,000, they took their
    time. According to police reports, these peculiar robbers smoked some
    cigarettes, ate a snack, and drank a few cups of joe, taking it easy
    before leaving the scene of the crime.
    The motives behind the theft remain unknown.
    It was a thorough job: After they loaded the computers into a van, the
    alarm was also taken. The only equipment they left in the UOCT were
    the live cameras that show the way the traffic moves - or, rather,
    does not move.
    Although police are re-routing vehicles around the city, traffic is
    far from becoming organized.
    Long queues of cars were observed all over Santiago, especially in the
    wealthy neighborhoods of the southern and western parts of the city,
    where most of the derelict traffic lights are installed.
    Patricio Tambolini, subsecretary of transportation, told the local
    media that drivers should not expect a normal green light until
    Monday, when things may be straightened out. About half of the 800
    derelict traffic lights were operational by Thursday evening, thanks
    to a backup version of the software that controls the lights, but no
    word on when the job will be completed.
    Luckily, this will occur during the weekend, so Santiago should not
    expect even more trouble as the traffic lights synchronization
    software is tested.
    "We thought we had deployed all normal security measures," Tambolini
    said. "You never know if you've covered all security holes until this
    kind of thing happens." He also pleaded to the almost 1 million
    befuddled drivers for some patience and understanding.
    In an effort to lower the number of circulating cars and calm down
    bewildered drivers, the authorities are urging citizens to take public
    transportation and the subway, even when buses now take three times as
    long to complete their journey.
    Local newspaper La Tercera reported that Javier Etcheberry, minister
    of transport and telecommunications, announced that even though
    installing a back-up traffic control system would be expensive, the
    government is giving the proposal some serious thought.
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