MIT Kids: Please come hack us!

Who knew all we needed was some MIT kids to help us get around any future fare hikes.

Apparently, some students at MIT made it a class project to hack the Boston subway system (aka the T).  As a matter of fact, the title of the project is: “The Anatomy of a Subway Hack: Breaking Crypto RFIDs & Magstripes of Ticketing Systems.”

Now, the students are computer security majors, so you can see the fit.

They planned to give their 80+ slide presentation at Defcon, a very large security conference.

However, the MTBA sued to have the presentation stopped.  A judge ordered a temporary restraining order keeping the presentation quiet.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) got involved to fight the order.

Anyway, the kids had successfully shown how to generate and reverse engineer CharlieCards and CharlieTickets, the Boston version of Metrocards.

They basically did in a semester what any professional hackers could do, but planed to use it as an educational tool.  Sure, stealing rides is illegal, but the bigger issue is that some students were able to beat a system pretty easily.

Makes me wonder what kind of havoc they could wreak with the Metrocard system.

Subway Security Bag Checks are Optional

In case you get stopped by an officer to search your bag on the subway (chances are extremely low), just keep in mind that letting them check is completely optional.  You don’t have to let NYPD officers go through your bag.  It’s totally up to you.  All the police can do is refuse to allow you on the train.

I always knew that…hell it says so right on the sign they have at the table.  However, I never really thought about it that much until I read this from a SUBWAYblogger commenter.

So if a terrorist were to get stopped for an inspection, all they would have to do is say no, and get on the train somewhere else.

Kinda scary.

WOW. Gun Show on the Subway

Holy hell, did you see all the guns on the subway today?  Apparently, it’s all part of “Operation TORCH,” a new federally funded security initiative.

The NYPD received a $30 million grant to increase subway security in a major way.  However, it seems like they are only focusing on major subway hubs. 

The police units, part of a new program called Operation TORCH, will focus on major transit hubs, including Times Square, Herald Square and Grand Central Terminal, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. [1010 WINS]

I’m not sure what good that does.  I guess it deters an attack from those stations.  However, a terrorist could just get on at a different stop!

All they would have to do is get on a random stop and ride straight into Times Square or Grand Central and detonate a bomb.  So I don’t think it makes it any safer from a terrorism perspective.

On a petty crime level like purse snatching and pickpocketing, that will probably go down on the fortified stations, but that’s probably about it.

Bomb Explosion in Times Square Disrupts Subway Service

A small bomb was set off in Times Square around 3:45am today. The explosion occurred on the doorstep of the Army/Navy recruitment station on the island in the center of Times Square.

As a result, the police immediately suspended subway service in Times Square. Luckily, trains kept moving and simply bypassed Times Square. However, since TS is a major transfer hub, bypassing it makes it a little tricky for commuters.

Luckily, service resumed fairly quickly…or somewhat quickly.

The station was/is basically on super secure mode. Trains entering the station were boarded by police dogs and checked before being allowed to proceed. In the station itself, there were officers in SWAT gear with machine guns. There were many people being randomly stopped and checked as well.

This will likely continue for the next few days. However, as the mayor said, it’s back to business as usual in Times Square, with a few more automatic weapons near by.

Morning 6 Train Jumper at 77th Street

6_shad.jpgThanks to SUBWAYblogger buddy Todd for alerting us to this.

Early reports indicate that there was a jumper at 77th Street on or near the 6 train that had suspended service in both directions for a period of time.

The NYPD DCPI reports that there does not appear to be any indication that the person was pushed, or that there was any foul play.  Emergency services responded, but the person in question was DOA.

All we know for now.

Subway Surfer Killed in Washington Heights (155th Street)

Rumor has it that a 21 year old was “thrown from a train” up in Washington Heights, and killed.  Details are very hard to come by because police are not being very forthcoming at this time.  Also, details are hard to get late at night when the majority of the press are home in bed.

The kid was on (literally) a downtown C train.  Witnesses say that he may have been train surfing.

What the hell is train surfing?  It’s riding on the top of the subway cars like an old western movie.  Possibly one of the dumbest ideas ever.

The “victim” was on top of the train, according to witness reports, when the train went under an overpass.  You can fill in the blanks from there.  I will insert the sound effect:  SPLAT!

I know, I know.  I’m going to get chewed apart in the comments for being insensitive.  I don’t care.  Folks, this is Darwinism at its best.  As a species, our future is a little better of than it was yesterday.

If it turns out that the kid accidentally fell off an overpass, onto the top of the train, and then surfed it downtown, I will retract my statement.

All the details are/were unconfirmed at the time this was posted.  However, my secret sources say this is pretty much a closed case.

Subway Murder Suicide

Ohhh the plot thickens.

In the wee hours yesterday morning, you may have heard that 2 train service was all messed up in the Bronx “because of police activity.”  Translation:  Dead guy found on the tracks.  This all happened in the Farms Square-East Tremont Avenue station .

Here’s where this whole thing turns into the next episode of Law & Order…

Police investigators found a small piece of paper on the man with a woman’s name.  So, they decided to get in touch with her hoping that she could possibly identify this guy.  They showed up at her apartment only to find that she had been murdered!  [cue dramatic music]

The police said they were investigating the deaths as a possible case of murder and suicide, but emphasized that they had not definitively linked the man to the woman or to her death. [NT Times]

Mercedes Mesa, 62, of 1050 Anderson Avenue in the Bronx, was found to have been killed due to head injuries. 

The only thing that would make this more dramatic is if they find out that this guy was thrown onto the track by someone else.  Either way, that’s how it will play out on Law & Order in a few months.  Can’t wait.

Just Now Getting Around to Prosecuting Graffiti from the 1980’s

Here’s how you know they will never crack down on today’s defacement of the subway. The feds are just now getting around to cracking down on notorious subway graffiti artist from the 1980’s.

He claimed that he had moved beyond graffiti, exhibiting his art in galleries, lecturing at universities and working as a commercial artist, but yesterday, as part of a three-borough plea bargain with prosecutors, the legendary 1980s graffiti creator known as Alan Ket pleaded guilty in Manhattan to leaving his art on subway cars from 2004 to 2006. [NY Times]

Ket (aka Alain Maridueña) is going to pay $12,000 in fines to avoid jail time.

The police actually served him with a warrant (13+ years later) to search his home. They seized his computer and a variety of other “graffiti related materials.” Apparently, some of them were collectors items from the 60’s and 70’s.

So rather than go after current offenders, they are more worried about getting those 80’s punks before a judge.

Bloomberg Wants Cameras on Subway Cars

Paris Subway Security Cameras 

Mayor Bloomberg went on a little trip to London this week.  He liked what he saw in their public transporation system.  All of their busses and subways have 2 to 3 cameras in each car.

I think it is a great idea.  It will hopefully make us safer…that’s obvious.  But what I’m really hoping it will do is cut down on the graffiti and defacement of the subways. 

Bloomberg also enjoyed their community bike program.

I hate all that etched crap that those asshole wannabe artists/gangsters tag on the windows.  This would catch them on tape.  Of course, this all assumes that there would be some sort of enforcement associated with the taping.  It will not do any good if the police don’t follow up on what they see.  So I guess that’s just another challenge. 

Unfortunately, Bloomberg said something that I know is going to come back to haunt him almost immediately: 

“We just have to do something here to make the city safer. Sadly, it is a little bit of an infringement on your rights,” Bloomberg told a news conference. [Reuters]

Some NYC busses have cameras mounted in them.  However, you don’t often hear of many bus related crimes for some reason.

Anway, our subway survelance security is pretty pathetic.  There’s entire stops that have one or no cameras at all.

There’s a reason that there’s cameras every 8 feet in casinos, banks, federal buildings, shopping malls, etc.  They help protect the people and the property. 

Protecting the people has its obvious benefits.  Protecting the property protects what Americans value most…their money.  Lowering vandalism will actually save tax payer/fare payer money in the long run.