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April 1, 2014 11:03 am

Israeli Students Hack GPS App Waze to Create Fake Traffic Jam

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Waze. Photo: Google Images.

Two Israeli students hacked the popular navigation application Waze getting it to report a fake traffic jam, Popular Science reported on Monday.

As part of a school project, Shir Yadid and Meital Ben-Sinai, fourth-year students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said they created the virtual traffic jam to show how malicious hackers might create a real one.

Waze, the Israeli-made smartphone app, provides directions and alerts drivers to traffic and accidents. One way it learns about traffic problems is through reports from users analyzing reports on road conditions from drivers and then identifying shorter commutes.

For their attack, Yadid and Ben-Sinai created and registered thousands of fake Waze users using a program that impersonated smartphones, Popular Science said. The fake accounts then used an application that gave false GPS coordinates to Waze with the users then submitting reports claiming to be stuck in traffic at the false coordinates.

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Fooled into thinking there were real traffic problems, Waze rerouted traffic to avoid the fake jam. The students’ advisers then informed Waze of the cyber attack and how it was done hoping the company will learn to prevent such intrusions from occurring again.

Waze was acquired last summer by tech giant Google for a reported $1.3 billion.

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