New Jersey toll system hacked

A security breach on the E-ZPass electronic toll system for the New Jersey Turnpike has led officials to suspend the application pending repairs, according to a spokesman for the Turnpike Authority.

A programmer and user of the E-ZPass system, Christopher Reagoso, was able to view account information such as the turnpike usage and names of the users in the e-mail billing system of the largest electronic toll collection system in the United States. However, he was not able to access home addresses, telephone numbers or checking account information.

Reagoso, who lives in Pennsylvania, brought the security glitch to the attention of a local Philadelphia TV station last week.

"We don't feel there was any criminal intent," said Lynn Fleeger, director of public affairs for the authority, about the hacking.

The online account statement system will be running again in about a week or two, when "the proper security measures have been put in place," Fleeger said.

Until then, turnpike customers will be able to retrieve account information via secured access to the turnpike's Web site and via paper documents, Fleeger said.

Chase Manhattan Bank is the online customer service contractor for the E-ZPass site (www.ezpass.com). Chase subcontracted the e-mail billing portion to PSi Technologies Inc., a provider of systems for posting, processing and accessing electronic documents.

In a prepared statement, a Chase spokeswoman said the bank has quickly resolved the security issues and no sensitive information has been disclosed. Reagoso did not gain access to any password, credit card or other payment information, according to the spokeswoman.

Chase responded immediately by shutting down the system and is taking steps to implement additional security features, the spokeswoman said. Testing will be done prior to resuming operations.

Using wireless technology, the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system reads account information encoded on an electronic tag stuck to the inside of motorists' windshields, turnpike officials said. As drivers pass through E-ZPass toll lanes, an overhead antenna and reader reviews the account information and deducts tolls from the motorist's prepaid account.

Copyright 2000 InfoWorld, International Data Group Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by IDG News Service.

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