It’s pretty cool when you’re assigned by your school to hack a mobile app, like when these Israeli students were assigned to hack Waze. The assignment was to demonstrate what malicious hackers could do by creating a fake traffic jam on the app, which provides real-time traffic updates and notifications to people on the road.
Shir Yadid and Meital Ben-Sinai, fourth-year students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, successfully tricked Waze users into believing there was a traffic jam. The students used a program to create and register fake Waze users with fake GPS coordinates. They then crowdsourced false road conditions from these artificial users. The students were smart and stuck with road conditions that would not affect infrastructure or traffic lights, like an accident.
The hoax worked and the project successfully redirected traffic, despite there being no need. In good spirit, the students informed Waze of the false incident to help them improve their app and prevent similar hacks in the future.
In light of April Fool’s Day, this was one technically sophisticated prank.