Computer Security Geek Changes License Plate to “NULL”; Idea Backfires Big Time

If you’re a computer security geek, getting a vanity plate on your car to tell the world about your passion might not be such a good idea. A security researcher named Droogie had his license plate inscribed with “NULL” at one point in the past, and, as he told attendees at the DEF CON conference in Las Vegas, his idea backfired spectacularly.

“I was like, ‘I’m the shit,'” he joked to the crowd. “‘I’m gonna be invisible.’ Instead, I got all the tickets.”

For those who don’t know, “NULL” is a value that indicates something that does not exist in a database, hence, the man was expecting that all tickets assigned to his plate would be considered null.

From Ars Technica:

First, Droogie got a parking ticket, incurred for an actual parking infraction—so much for being invisible. Then, once a particular database of outstanding tickets had associated the license plate NULL with his address, it sent him every other ticket that lacked a real plate. The total came to $12,049 worth of tickets. Droogie told the DEF CON audience that he received little sympathy from either the California DMV or the Los Angeles Police Department, both telling him to just change his plate to something else. That remains something he refuses to do.

Although the initial $12,000-worth of fines were removed, the private company that administers the database didn’t fix the issue and new NULL tickets are still showing up.

This also reminds me of a funny XKCD comic I read a few years ago:




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