A security researcher came up with a brilliant plan to mess up with license plate readers and ticketing systems by registering his car’s license plate as ‘NULL.’
The plan worked (sort of!) and the NULL plates managed to create a glitch in the system. But at the same time, the plan backfired spectacularly as he ended up receiving over $12,000 worth of parking tickets.
The cybersecurity expert, who goes by the name “Droogie,” presented his hilarious hacking tale at the recent Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas.
“I’m gonna be invisible,” said Droogie, “instead, I got all the tickets.”
He explained how he hoped the NULL license plates to help him evade or at least make it difficult for cops to give him a ticket — as they wouldn’t be able to enter the ticket into their system.
But things took a turn when he started receiving parking tickets for unknown cars. This is because whenever a ticket is entered into the system for a car with unknown license plates, the field on the form is entered as ‘NULL.’
Now that there was a car registered to a plate that read NULL, all the unpaid tickets worth $12,049 got mailed to Droogie’s address.
He reached out to both the California DMV and the Los Angeles Police Department, but both offices told him to just change his plate to something more valid!
While that is something Droogie still refuses to do, the initial $12,000 worth of fines were removed by the California DMV.
However, Droogie still uses those plates so he has received another $6,000 worth of other people’s tickets.
The private company that runs the database hasn’t fixed the issue yet so new NULL tickets keep on showing up Droogie’s door.
The serious side of Droogie’s tale still remains unsolved with questions like: Could someone exploit one of these scenarios for profit?
The NULL issue extends beyond license plates systems. There are people with the surname Null who have trouble purchasing plane tickets as their name causes bugs in the ticketing system.