A digital road sign in Mililani was hacked, causing confusion for some early Saturday morning commuters.
The offensive message was short and it was only up for a few hours, but KHON2 wanted to know how easy is it to hack into one of these signs and how often does it happen.
Tampering with portable road signs is illegal and can be potentially dangerous to drivers. The company who owns the signs said this isn’t the first time they’ve had a problem with vandals.
Melissa Vomvoris was driving her daughter to work on Kamehameha highway and Lanikuhana Avenue at 3 in the morning, when she noticed the interesting choice of words.
“When I dropped her off, I came back, circled around, looked at the sign, took a picture, I’m like ‘it does say that,'” Vomvoris said.
GP Roadway Solutions said they do have issues with vandals stealing the batteries that are used to power these signs, but they say this is the first time anyone has changed the message.
The company got the call from police around 4 in the morning, and immediately sent someone to fix it. Another sign nearby was also recently vandalized.
So is it easy to hack into a digital road sign? “Unfortunately, not too difficult,” said Tim Caminos of Supergeeks. “Some of the things companies can do is just have better protection on their devices, better locks, change the passwords or maybe create stronger passwords.
“This is actually the first time I’ve said seen tampering in Hawaii,” he said.
Tampering with signs can be very dangerous for commuters and cause even more confusion for drivers who rely on road signs for information.
“That sign is important to me,” said Vomvoris, “so that’s why when I glanced at it, usually they end construction at 4:30 and it will say that, so when I looked at the sign I was like ‘did that really say what I thought it said?'”
Police said changing the messages of road signs could be considered criminal tampering, which is a misdemeanor.