Computer virus bails out ticketed drivers in Australia

24 June, 2017, 01:02 | Author: Alicia Barber
  • Traffic cameras in Victoria infected by WannaCry ransomware

The incident has left Victoria Police with no option but to cancel all the outstanding fines and penalties issued while the infection was active.

Victoria Police has chose to cancel nearly 600 speeding and red light fines issued over the past two and a half weeks after the WannaCry ransomware managed to infiltrate some of the state's road safety cameras.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther made the announcement on Friday afternoon.

Fifty-five traffic cameras near inner-city Melbourne were affected by the ransomware after a maintenance worker unknowingly uploaded the virus. Some 55 cameras in the state were affected by WannaCry.

"I cancelled the fines because I think it's important the pubic has 100 per cent confidence in the system", Mr Guenther said.

I wonder if the authorities in Victoria have chose to cancel the fines more out of fear of getting caught up in expensive and time-consuming legal battles with drivers who might argue that the cameras' integrity could have been tampered with by malicious code, rather than any genuine belief that anything dodgy occurred.

Cybersecurity experts have serious doubts about that claim.

In May 2017, WannaCry ripped through the world's unpatched Windows machines, locking users out of their devices and forcing them to pay a ransom to regain access to their devices and data.

"This indicates that we need to invest in just some basic infrastructure for cybersecurity".

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Despite being infected, the cameras remained online and continued to function.

Typically ransomware spreads by people unwittingly opening emails, clicking on unsafe links or opening attached documents infected with a malware.

The virus infected organisations in 150 countries in May.

Britain's National Health Service had to turn away patients after WannaCry locked up hospital computers, forcing the closure of wards and emergency rooms. According to reports, the malware infected the computer system at one of Honda's manufacturing plants in Japan earlier this week, leading to a complete plant shutdown this past Wednesday. Because it can't guarantee the behaviour of the cameras wasn't altered by WannaCry, hundreds of drivers are being left off the hook.

The department says each camera has been fixed.

"There is no evidence that this was the result of a cyber attack", he said.

"A system patch has been applied, which prevents the spread of the virus", the spokesperson told AW3, the local radio station who uncovered the outbreak.

He said he would be meeting the Assistant Commissioner of Road and Policing, the Sherrif and the Traffic Camera Commissioner on Monday to start an inquiry into the matter. The Victoria Police force was called in and opened "strategic communications" lines with the state's Justice Department and the independent operator of its road safety system, Serco, about the incident. This will ensure no more cameras are impacted by the attack.

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