back to article The Boston Trio and the MBTA

The annual DEFCON conference in Las Vegas in early August got a bit more interesting than usual when three graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were enjoined from giving a presentation by a court in Boston. The three - Zach Anderson, RJ Ryan and Alessandro Chiesa - intended to present both a paper …


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  1. sub1ime_uk

    So how long is reasonable?

    "What the MBTA probably wanted was just more time to evaluate the vulnerability and fix it"

    This story has been kicking around for a while now. does anyone have any knowledge of whether the MBTA has yet:

    * acknowledged the vulnerability exists

    * investigated ways of fixing it

    * actually done anything about it?

    I suspect they haven't done much other than talk to their lawyers. So if the students had felt a need to be responsible in their disclosure how long would the MBTA have wanted them to wait? A week? A month? A year? Longer?

    Then there's the actual vulnerability. It's so trivial that nobody really thinks these three guys were the first, or the last, to find it independantly. How often have large organisations exhibited this kind of ostrich-like behaviour when it comes to security vulnerablilities? They are just doing the corporate version of sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting "la la la la I can't hear you!" and hoping their lawyers will then frighten everyone away.

    Finally, who pays? Does the MBTA get some sort of government subsidy for running the system? Do they make a profit? Are the customers going to have to pay increased fares to make up any shortfall? Of course increasing the fares would also make the hack more enticing for people with little or no money but some computer expertise (lots of teenagers).

    Will any future losses, as with the music business, now be blamed upon hacking freetards?

  2. Jeff Rowse Silver badge

    Actually, its' called simply "M.T.A"

    and not "Charlie on the MTA".

    Spent many a happy childhood hour listening to my parents' collection of funny black disks with a hole in the middle, and their album* "At Large With..." was one of my faves (* the Kingston Trio, not my parents).

    Funnily enough, I started humming it when TfL announced the Oyster card...

    Altogether now,, ah-one,two,three,four...

    "And so he'll never return, no he'll never return....And his fate is still unlearned (poor old Charlie)....He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston ....He's the man who never returned!"

    Mine's the one with 10 cents and the sandwiches in the pocket...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    [Charlie on the] MTA

    Catchy tune. Rang a bell and a bit of research pointed me to where I'd heard it before... Malcolm In the Middle, Season 4, Episode "Long Drive". Also came across a load of other historical info behind the song. Interesting story, worth the sidetrack.

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