Speed Tickets in Victoria, Australia, Withdrawn Following WannaCry Infection

Almost 100 speed cameras in the Australian state of Victoria were unwittingly infected with WannaCry ransomware starting June 6. To ensure the accuracy of the devices was not affected, authorities have temporarily withdrawn all speed camera tickets issued since the infection day. The 280 speed cameras in Victoria have recorded about 8,000 notices during this timeframe.

News from 3AW radio station last week reported that 55 speed and red-light traffic enforcement systems in Victoria had been infected by WannaCry, the malware that wreaked havoc across the globe in mid-May. Police Minister Lisa Neville revealed in a press conference over the weekend that the malware had made its way onto 42 additional devices.

The malware on the traffic systems was not the result of a cyber attack; instead, a worker doing maintenance connected a USB stick infected with WannaCry. Since the cameras were not connected to the internet, or to each other, the infection was contained within each unit. The file encrypting component remained inactive, suggesting the malware was an earlier version without a so-called kill switch. In this context, WannaCry simply forced the units into a reboot loop, as a protective mechanism, which was how the infection was detected.

Maintenance work has been done on all 280 traffic enforcement systems across Victoria beginning June 6 and no other cameras showed signs of infection; but to eliminate any public doubt regarding their accurate determination of vehicle speed, Neville has asked that all units be reviewed for malware traces and their current status and integrity be established.

Until the investigation is finished, all speed notices will be on hold. This isn’t to say that speeding offenses will pass unrecorded, though. “They will be capturing people who are speeding, they will be capturing people who go through red lights — but those tickets will be held in abeyance until the review has been completed,” said Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer. “We are being overly cautious here because we need to ensure that our road safety camera system is 100 per cent pure,” he continued. “There is no evidence at all that the integrity of the speeds detected has been compromised at all, the Commissioner added during the conference.

Although, in this case, WannaCry has not encrypted any data, it does have an impact, even if the infected devices were not its target. Malware not intended for smart things could affect them in a similar manner, crippling their functionality or even bricking them completely.


Image credit: Peter Griffin

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