Free ride on the MBTA? Maybe…


If you’re willing to hack your CharlieCard then it would seem that it actually isn’t all that hard to give yourself some additional fare value on the Boston mass transit system. A group of MIT students were prevented from presenting their report on the flaws in the system thanks to a last minute injunction handed down by a judge in Massachusetts. The trio was poised to present the findings at Defcon, an annual security/hacker conference. The MBTA effectively petitioned the courts that they’d lose too much money if the report was presented before they could fix the problems and managed to get a judgement in their favor.

Of course, the slides for the presentation were published before the injunction came down, so plenty of folks have some of the details. Something about the horses already being out of the barn comes to mind. They apparently offered to tell the MBTA about the problem a while ago and were rebuffed. Better to sue later than solve the problem now. When will people learn that you cannot actually silence people who discover security holes. Just fix them and move on.

Oh, and they got an A on their research from their professor.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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