The MD5 Defense
A team of Chinese maths enthusiasts have thrown NSW’s speed cameras system into disarray by cracking the technology used to store data about errant motorists.
The NRMA has called for a full audit of the way the state’s 110 enforcement cameras are used after a motorist escaped a conviction by claiming that data was vulnerable to hackers.
A Sydney magistrate, Laurence Lawson, threw out the case because the Roads and Traffic Authority failed to find an expert to testify that its speed camera images were secure.
The motorist’s defence lawyer, Denis Mirabilis, argued successfully that an algorithm known as MD5, which is used to store the time, date, place, numberplate and speed of cars caught on camera, was a discredited piece of technology.
It’s true that MD5 is broken. On the other hand, it’s almost certainly true that the speed cameras were correct. If there’s any lesson here, it’s that theoretical security is important in legal proceedings.
I think that’s a good thing.