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[ISN] Polish teen derails tram after hacking train network
By John Leyden
11th January 2008
A Polish teenager allegedly turned the tram system in the city of Lodz
into his own personal train set, triggering chaos and derailing four
vehicles in the process. Twelve people were injured in one of the
The 14-year-old modified a TV remote control so that it could be used to
change track points, The Telegraph reports. Local police said the
youngster trespassed in tram depots to gather information needed to
build the device. The teenager told police that he modified track
setting for a prank.
"He studied the trams and the tracks for a long time and then built a
device that looked like a TV remote control and used it to manoeuvre the
trams and the tracks," said Miroslaw Micor, a spokesman for Lodz police.
"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.
"He treated it like any other schoolboy might a giant train set, but it
was lucky nobody was killed. Four trams were derailed, and others had to
make emergency stops that left passengers hurt. He clearly did not think
about the consequences of his actions," Micor added.
Transport command and control systems are commonly designed by engineers
with little exposure or knowledge about security using commodity
electronics and a little native wit. The apparent ease with which Lodz's
tram network was hacked, even by these low standards, is still a bit of
an eye opener.
Problems with the signalling system on Lodz's tram network became
apparent on Tuesday when a driver attempting to steer his vehicle to the
right was involuntarily taken to the left. As a result the rear wagon of
the train jumped the rails and collided with another passing tram.
Transport staff immediately suspected outside interference.
The youth, described by his teachers as an electronics buff and
exemplary student, faces charges at a special juvenile court of
endangering public safety.
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