California’s Digital License Plate System Had Serious Security Flaws

( – In October 2022, California legalized digital license plates. The new tech has the ability to hold all of the vehicle owner’s information, eliminating the need for conventional stickers and registration cards. They also feature the option for authorities to remotely change the message that is displayed on the screen in the case of a stolen vehicle or Amber Alert. This feature should greatly assist law enforcement efforts. The device known as RPlate ®, sold by a company called Reviver, also contains built-in tracking abilities, a feature that came under scrutiny in the second week of January. 

According to a blog post by Sam Curry, a team of security researchers was able to access the physical location of all the digital license plates as well as change the personalized message displayed at the bottom of the screen after obtaining “full super administrative access” to Reviver’s systems. Curry claimed that an “actual hacker” would have been able to “update, track, or delete anyone’s REVIVER [sic] plate.” 

The researchers who found the vulnerability also had access to user records, including all of their personal information. Reviver has since made a statement saying that they had “patched the application” and taken “further measures to prevent this from occurring in the future.” They reassured users that the information had not been accessed by any bad actors, claiming that cybersecurity is “central” to their mission. 

While it appears this issue was fixed quickly, it has highlighted a serious issue with digital identification. Not only is it vulnerable to hacking and identity theft, but the ability to track and identify every vehicle remotely could also become a serious privacy concern, especially when many people are wary of government overreach. 

According to Reviver’s website, digital license plates are street-legal everywhere in North America. Currently, Arizona, California, and Michigan are the only states that have approved the issuance of digital devices to vehicle owners, but the company is working to spread the technology further. 

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