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NYC Taxi Commission Deny Charges of Hackers Accessing Cab Touchscreens

On December 31, 2007, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission declined latest claims that cyber-terrorists can get hold of classified data via touchscreens in taxis.

Recently, Billy Chasen, a software engineer from New York, managed to break into the Operating System (OS) of a touchscreen displayed in the back seat of several Manhattan taxis and utilized it to link up to the net. However, as per the display system's marketer, no classified data or vital systems were exposed.

Chasen declared that after opening the files, he could access all administrative details on the computer. He added that he could have downloaded software from the net, as reported by InformationWeek on December 31, 2007. He showed that cyber-terrorists could easily scan private and financial data of clients paying through credit cards.

But TLC's Deputy Commissioner for public affairs, Allan Fromberg, said that Chasen could have just got hold of some media files, as reported by eWEEK.COM. According to Fromberg, the only thing the hackers could have achieved is access to a few media spots.

Fromberg in a mail to InformationWeek asserted that comprehensive contract-requisite safety protocols transcending even government and credit card business measures are put in place, after rigorous checking by internal and outside security professionals in order to thwart the hackers' entry into media data present in the taxicab, thus leaving no prospect for any malevolent action.

In an interview in the last week of December 2007, Pete Bartolik, spokesperson at VeriFone Transportation Systems, affirmed that riders' credit card information was encoded so it could not be exposed, reported InformationWeek. He added that the taxicab had an obsolete modem, utilized when the display system was tested.

During the end of 2007, a producer and a reporter at WNBC witnessed similar error messages in taxicabs in which they were traveling. Just like Chasen, they could also employ the touchscreen to access the onboard PC.

So far, there haven't been any reports of credit card stealing or any reports of credit card information being stolen from PCs in taxis.

Related article: NZ Researcher Uncovers Hacking Techniques Against Vista

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