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Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's Sunday afternoon -- don't forget to feed the meters

Several readers have pointed us to this story, about an apparent hack into smart parking meters. It looks as though the prepaid parking cards are the security weak spot. Does anybody know if the workaround would provide free parking in Portland?

Comments (7)

I recall that the original WIRED article mentioned Portland in a group of cities vulnerable to one kind of attack. What an improvement! Weren't they going to pay for these things twice, under a new deal negotiated by the idiot who runs that department?

I just found out the unfortunate fact that with the increase in parking fees came an increase in the minimum amount of cash it takes to purchase a parking validation.

Not too long ago you could get a sticker for 25 cents, meaning you could pop it in your window and go in a store for a quick pick up, like takeout or picking up holds at the library, with time to spare.

Now it costs 40 cents to do the same. (Or was it 45?)

With the old mechanical meters, you could put time on them with as little as 5 cents.

These are not astronomical sums, obviously, but it means that any silver coin in the ashtray is no longer enough to park for even the shortest duration. If you don't have enough change, you gotta bust out the card.

... about an apparent hack into smart parking meters ...

What would scare me is someone figuring out how to hack these machines, not for free parking, but access the credit card numbers of every person that uses one.

Would think that fireman Randy has his crack loo design team working on a fix.

I believe the meters in San Francisco can use prepaid cards, and that is what they are hacking, not the meter itself.

What I can't figure, is why they went through the trouble of hanging an o-scope off of it, when a $30 magnetic stripe reader would have been just as effective in this case...

I thought the article said that they were smart cards (embedded electronic chip) not mag-stripe cards.

Either way, you can get smart card readers for insanely cheap. Target was giving them away a while back for loading coupons onto your Target card from their web site.

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