Vehicle Inspections in Multiple States Disrupted by Malware

Applus Technologies, Inc., a vendor of multiple state Departments of Motor Vehicles that assists states with vehicle inspections, recently announced that its systems have been affected by malware, disrupting motor vehicle inspections in Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, and Utah. As a result of the outage, vehicle inspections have not been able to be completed since March 30, 2021.

This is obviously very inconvenient for those individuals whose inspection stickers have or will expire shortly, as they are at risk of being issued a citation for an expired inspection sticker, on top of having to take time off to take their car to get inspected.

To address this concern, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) said, “[R]ecognizing the inconvenience Applus’ outage is causing, the RMV has been in communication with law enforcement to request cooperation and discretion in citing those with an expired sticker who may have attempted to visit a station this week.” The RMV has extended a grace period of one month to drivers who were unable to get their inspection stickers because of the outage.

After inspections were delayed a week, on April 7, 2021, Applus forwarded a software patch to service stations to try to fix the problem. However, it is being reported that Applus forwarded the patch to service stations on flash drives! Flash drives are notorious for being used to plant malicious malware and ransomware in users’ systems. Sending a patch on a flash drive is completely contradictory to security best practices.

Applus has stated that it does not believe that any customer (i.e., service station) financial information has been compromised, but is working with a forensic expert.

Lesson learned: get your inspection sticker in plenty of time before it expires.