It turns out that the new electronic license plates being issued in Michigan, California, and at least one other state have GPS trackers in them, which allow anyone to track the location of the car that they are attached to. The government having the ability to track everyone all of the time disturbs me enough, but complicating this is the fact that securing them from outside parties tracking them is something that apparently didn’t occur to the company that makes them.

White hats were able to hack into the plates, giving them the ability to see the GPS location, name, address, and other information about the registered owner. In addition, they were able to alter the plates to make them appear to be dealer tags.

This is a bonanza for criminals. A robber sees someone buy something that they want in a store, so they track you through your tag so that you can be robbed in a remote location. Cut someone off in traffic? It would be easy for them to find out where you live. Is your wife pretty? Maybe they can track her home for some easy raping.

This is a major security fail. Remember, just because you don’t do business on the cloud, you are still vulnerable to cyber crime. I am not sure how I would defend against this, but the time to figure that out is BEFORE these plates become mandatory where YOU live.


19 Comments

BobF · January 17, 2023 at 7:43 am

Interestingly, yes a bonanza to criminals, but also to law enforcement in that they will undoubtedly have access to information on the user they would not have otherwise had. And even if not legally obtained (cops don’t work underhanded, do they? Hah!), the information might go far during an investigation.

So I see it benefitting both sides, but NOT benefitting the user. NO THANK YOU!

chiefjaybob · January 17, 2023 at 7:54 am

I’m pretty ignorant about thus stuff, but how hard would it be to build a faraday cage around the plate? Something with wide enough mesh to keep the plate visible, but block the RFID signal? Or copper tape over the RFID antenna, assuming you knew where it was?

    Steve S6 · January 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    Cut the battery out of circuit, cut the power leads. DRT.

      Divemedic · January 17, 2023 at 6:49 pm

      Then you have a plate with no numbers and will get pulled over

mike · January 17, 2023 at 8:02 am

What is the mechanism built into the tag, some kind of chip like the Apple airtags? Seems like they can be easily disabled by the car owner without physically damaging the tag.

    Divemedic · January 17, 2023 at 6:50 pm

    The tag is digital

Michael · January 17, 2023 at 8:03 am

A little squeeze here, a little squeeze there and soon enough the Python had dinner ready.

Want to bet that the FBI’s director at Davos is just a “ski trip”?

Quite a list of US Senators and Representees going to Davos.

I wonder if in that massive Omnibus bill there’s some Electronic Dollar action to eliminate that nasty dirty cash stuff?

A lot to have unread in 4,155 pages PLUS 2,670 pages of explanatory statements.

TechieDude · January 17, 2023 at 9:20 am

Easy.
You scrape off the tracker, or smash it. It’s probably a transponder like a toll tag.

Rob · January 17, 2023 at 11:15 am

Disable the circuitry. Then wait. If anyone comes calling…

Mark · January 17, 2023 at 11:22 am

I wonder if a Faraday cage would block the signal.

Zil Trabant · January 17, 2023 at 11:39 am

Don’t forget your licenses and permits in the coming golden Bosnia x Rwanda egalitarian utopia.
You could use the plate for target practice.
What is the plan after burning it all down?
There isn’t one because evil cannot create.

June J · January 17, 2023 at 12:08 pm

Governments and their high tech comrades are constantly finding new ways to implement “1984.”
Sheep are constantly eagerly signing up to participate in “1984.”

Big Ruckus D · January 17, 2023 at 12:23 pm

I’d like to know the actual method of tracking: directly by pinging cell networks, or airtag style where a mesh network of surrounding users is required to make it effective. I suspect the latter (similar to smart meters where every node is a transceiver and repeater).

And even that approach still ultimately relies on a fixed cell tower picking up the data at some point to send to “central command”. Besides, there are still plenty of places with no coverage of cell networks to do the data collection. I routinely get into large signal dead zones with my phone only 30 minutes out of my metro area, where even 3G was never built out yet, much less 5G. The typical urban cockroaches who never venture beyond the hellscape of their city locale will, of course, always be on grid.

Either way, it shouldn’t be difficult to defeat passively, and active measures like jamming (while of questionable legality) aren’t that technically difficult, either. Physically defeating the on-plate radio is certainly possible. And unless/until one gets caught, what are they going to do about it?

joe · January 17, 2023 at 5:21 pm

think I would beat that plate too death with a sledgehammer

Danny · January 17, 2023 at 5:38 pm

Is anyone surprised that there will be RFID included in auto license plates? This has been coming for a while. Of course due to the general incompetence of government, it has taken longer to reach most of us. But it’s coming. Isn’t being a taxpayer wonderful?

Steve S6 · January 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

“monthly subscription fee”

Aesop · January 18, 2023 at 7:22 am

Oh, gee, officer, it seems I backed into a pole and the plate was disabled.
“Sorry, it doesn’t work, it’s been broken since I got it. (Right after I drove over it ten or twelve times.)”
Etc.

The original new fiatbux had an RFID strip built in that would give ser. # and denomination. People scratched them out in about a NFY Minute, and Uncle dropped that dumbass idea in about 0.2 seconds.

Ralph · January 19, 2023 at 7:28 am

Late model cars have GPS trackers built in. I can locate my car within a few feet with a phone app. That would mean anyone else that wanted to can also.

    Divemedic · January 19, 2023 at 8:10 am

    But disabling the GPS tracker on MY car if I choose to do so isn’t against the law. Disabling the plate’s GPS is.

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