Hackers staged a Massive Traffic Jam in Moscow

Hackers forced a significant traffic jam or bottleneck in Moscow after exploiting the Russian ride-hailing app, Yandex Taxi, to simultaneously summon dozens of taxis to the exact location.

The attack happened on September 1 and had traffic steering towards Kutuzovsky Prospect — an already busy boulevard — stuck at a halt.

A video offering lines of taxis seemingly endeavoring to get to the same destination was shared widely on Twitter and Reddit on Thursday. While Moscow is understood for its heavy traffic — it rated number two as the world’s most congested city last year — this incident wasn’t linked to the capital city’s typical traffic patterns.

“On the morning of September 1, Yandex. Taxi uncovered an attempt by attackers to disrupt the service — several dozen drivers accepted bulk orders to the Fili region,” Yandex Taxi told in a statement to the Russian state-owned outlet TASS. The ride-hailing service, acknowledged by the Russian internet giant, Yandex, counted that the jam endured about 40 minutes and that its “algorithm for noticing and deterring such attacks has already been improved to prevent similar incidents in the future.”

Yandex has yet to establish who took out the attack, but the hacktivist bunch Anonymous asserted responsibility for the jam on Twitter. It says it functioned with the IT Army of Ukraine, a loosely organized set of hacktivists that Ukrainian Vice PM Mykhailo Fedorov helped form when Russia first infested Ukraine. Anonymous proclaimed a “cyber war” against Russia before this year and later declared it hijacked Russian TV channels with footage of the war that’s considered “illegal” in the nation. Hacktivists have since leaked troves of data and terabytes worth of emails belonging to the country’s regime agencies and major corporations as part of an ongoing cyber campaign against Russia.

Eventually, the traffic will return to normal, and where we will be seated in cars — not clung at traffic lights. But, are traffic lights secure for such a critical part of our transport network? Well, Dutch researchers have now shown that it is possible to trick traffic lights remotely:

With this, they have hacked traffic lights in 10 cities in the Netherlands, where they tricked the system with fake bicycles at intersections. It sets a green light for the cycle route and red for the cars. They focus on showing that a hacker could cause large-scale traffic jams within cities.

For this, they used mobile apps for cyclists, which allow for sharing a location. These apps then support the detection of a cyclist at a junction and which tries to allow a cyclist to pass through the intersection without stopping. The researchers injected fake data into the app, which allowed them to control the traffic lights.