The importance of digital signage security has rarely been made more graphically clear than it was last week in Atlanta, when hackers replaced a digital billboard’s regularly scheduled programming with a full moon.
And no, I don’t mean a picture of Earth’s largest satellite.
According to multiple media reports, including one from WSB-TV 2 in Atlanta, a building-side digital billboard in the city’s Buckhead district was “hacked” and had its intended content replaced with a particularly graphic image of a man’s posterior.
The image was so graphic it prompted at least one 9-11 call, according to the station:
“There’s an electronic billboard that is flashing a naked man,” one woman said in the 911 call. “It’s not actually an emergency; it’s just totally disgusting.”
According to WSB-TV, the FBI was investigating the security breach, and a group calling itself the Assange Shuffle Collective, apparently in honor of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, later claimed responsibility for the incursion, according to Gawker.
The particularly disquieting piece of the story, though, isn’t the fact that the image was put up on a public-facing billboard — it’s the fact that the company that owns the billboard was a) warned well in advance that there was a monstrous hole in their security, and b) that the hole remained unplugged well after the hack: “Digital Signage Today”
oops, had to nuke the april 8 tweet. Here's a better sanitized one: pic.twitter.com/uqNpbLukO0
— Dan Tentler (@Viss) May 14, 2015
Apparently that billboard and many others were or are listed on Shodan, the search engine for Internet-connected devices, and many other billboards could well remain defenseless against similar pranks:
So um, SOME of them are gone (mostly the verizon ones?) But still a bunch left. pic.twitter.com/ngI9rOYjuQ
— Dan Tentler (@Viss) May 16, 2015
Um, guys, might want to fix that before you have to cover up another moon landing.
Watch the video about the story from WSB-TV below:
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