Russian billboard includes a “happy ending”

It seems someone hacked into one of LED billboards and added porn video clips to the rotation of advertisements. We caught a glimpse before YouTube yanked it. We’ve pixelated the shot above which already had some blackbox censorship from the OP but we assure you, it was hardcore porn.

The 9-by-6 meter billboard is in downtown Moscow. The AP is reporting that this caused something of a traffic jam and shocked passersby. We’ve seen porn before, but have to admit that even knowing what to expect in the video it was a bit shocking for us to see cars driving by a giant sex scene. This is certainly much more of a distraction than leaving clever messages on the side of the road.

Does anyone know what technology is used to update these billboards? We’re curious as to whether physical access to the unit is necessary for this kind of attack. Leave your insights in the comments.

[Thanks Sean]

Comments

  1. nave.notnilc says:

    hmm, I imagine it’s network connected. Also, it’s pretty common knowledge that normal text traffic boards (modifiable on site only) have ridiculously poor security. With more network-connected/semi-smart devices/displays, hopefully things will get more secure.

  2. monkeyslayer56 says:

    i think some of them u can email updates…

  3. Chris says:

    I’ve seen one of these type of screens simply connected to a Windows PC running a custom application. I guess sometimes a bright spark will decide to connect it to a wireless access point so it can be updated easily without physical access to the PC. Who knows, it’d be interesting to find out though!

  4. nave.notnilc says:

    oh, and see http://www.tottenkoph.com/presentations/hodbn.ppt (PPT file, topical)

  5. derp says:

    They threw a bunch of these up in Vancouver recently…

  6. Phaux says:

    Chris is right about the Windows PC part. When they installed two new ones near the Jobing.com arena in Glendale AZ, for the longest time one billboard was displaying the Bliss wallpaper, and the other had the purple mountains XP wallpaper as well.

    I’m sure they are network connected, though. For how expensive and more advanced they are over your run-of-the-mill billboard, it sure would be nice to be able to remotely update the sign. I bet in my case, the arena does the updating, since most of the time it shows upcoming performances and sporting event dates.

  7. shithead says:

    These type are usually through data centers off-site or on small servers on-site. I’d imaging this one was on-site and accessed physically by a bad employee or some cracker. Nobody randomly gets into a network and does stuff like this..

    Russia is the reverse engineering epicenter, also surprised this wasn’t kiddy porn it being Russia.

  8. Zack says:

    @Phaux:
    I live in Phoenix, and I do believe I saw a very similar thing, except the billboard was cycling through the Sample Pictures that were default in XP. I remember sharing a giggle with the IT director at my school because we both knew it was probably just a screensaver that showed anything in My Pictures!

  9. yea g says:

    I know that the LCD advertisements they have in the malls here are just some javascript running in IE. Every so often, you see them come up with errors

  10. Vanillagorilla says:

    Saw one of these billboards in downtown Atlanta, GA with a BSOD.

  11. Pete says:

    Haa. Just read that not one but 2 screens were hacked displaying p0rn ha

  12. Taras Kuba says:

    Here are photos and videos — http://www.yaplakal.com/forum2/topic266014.html

  13. zacdee316 says:
  14. Nemo says:

    Nobody else noticed the three spelling mistakes in the post? cleaver instead of clever, curios instead of curious, and you instead of your? Are you a bit sleepy there Mike?

    Nice hack though.

  15. Alex says:

    @Nemo:

    I’m guessing you’re just the only one that cared enough to comment about it.

  16. olh says:

    @Nemo, it’s porn versus spell check.

  17. jimmy says:

    this is one of the funniest hacks i’ve seen in a long time :) props to the russkies!

  18. barry99705 says:

    Pretty good resolution for a billboard.

  19. tylak7 says:

    well check these out, i found these at a wachovia

  20. hairypalmedblindguy says:

    I was at a construction site last summer that was right next to one of these LCD billboards. Which led me to make an offhand comment about hacking it for XBox360 or maybe for porn. The next day there was a camera on a boom sticking out from it facing the billboard.

  21. Z says:

    Fantastic, bloody fantastic!

  22. ZS says:

    *curious

  23. Mic says:

    Gigity.

  24. Alex says:

    According to the Russian news report the billboards are controlled from the billboard’s company’s office. There might have been two billboards involved but no one is sure.

  25. Icarus says:

    maybe they were watching porn on the job while putting up the ads together… probably not. Very nice hack.

  26. lolz says:

  27. blizzarddemon says:

    lolz get that @#$$%# off here

  28. blizzarddemon says:

    Apparently its still on youtube <.<

  29. Goose says:

    I’ve actually taken a computer out of one of these signs before. They really arent that secured especially if the sign is connected to an access point. when i left the company i worked for i decided to change the sign to let them know how i felt about them. changing one of these signs is about as easy as breaking into someone’s wifi and loading up some new images to the right IP address on their network.

  30. rocky says:

    jutae maroo…………………….

  31. moshguy says:

    This totally made my day.

  32. Taki says:

    Usually there’s a windows xp box hooked with a cellular modem… Here in Israel they’re not even password protected..

  33. saimhe says:

    According to rumors, it’s simply a revenge from employees after a huge team was downsized.

  34. tehgringe says:

    I did this ages ago with an Arduino, does anyone know how you plug boobs into an Arduino…:P

  35. Snegovt says:

    - .
    - , , .
    , .
    , – “ ”.

    , , – .

  36. irlolcopter says:

    now THIS, is a hack.
    keep up the good work!

    btw: how much do these screens cost?

  37. noname says:

    The older ones are actually on the telephone network, not like internet; but you can call them and then use something like telnet or some other serial console.

  38. Louis II says:

    At least it wasn’t SWAP.avi.

  39. Frogz says:

    I will pay anyone $3 usd who hacks a 40 by 80 pixel arrowboard to display pixelpr0n

    all the signs I’ve personally seen are updated from a serial or network connected pc, usually running windows 3.1 because of loving engineers that don’t update their software

  40. Richard says:

    When somebody figures a simple way to do this, maybe they should post an ‘Indestructible’ just for the lulz… >;-)

  41. Porra says:

    These boards run on a XP box correct, i work with them very often, files get loaded to the billboards driving pc via network, being LAN, WiFi, 3G or whatever the enviroment requires. then the PC runs software that displays the content through a schedule table that is also sent to the driving pc remotely.

  42. Blue Scorpion says:

    Hey some great news, after reading this inspiring article, I checked out some outdoor tv companies’ web sites. I’m living in Turkey, and S T R Ö E R is the biggest outdoor marketing company in Turkey. andddd they have a special FTP Login Panel for their customers built in their Turkish Web Site… Anyone thinking the same ?

  43. Jesus Christ says:

    Apparently there are a lot of people on here who push bibles like drugs…

    Wahhhh this doesn’t comply with the morals I claim to always follow..boohoo

    This isn’t an all christian website, you don’t like it feel free to fuck off

  44. Inventorjack says:

    @Jesus: Whether someone here claims to have morals or not is not really the issue. People come to this site from school, work, etc, and would prefer not to be kicked out of those institutions because someone posted a video with porn. Simple as that, and I think most everyone here is content to keep the site clean enough to view in public.

  45. YaBa says:

    Here in Portugal, some are connected with old 33kbps modems (gsm too), and you can even find their number in the public phonebook!!!!
    However… most of them use JCDecaux software, which no one until now could get the hands on :|
    Also, physical attack would raise many red flags.

  46. Eralo says:

    Remids me of some mission of GTA:Vice city. Did they use a 500cc bike to reach the control panel?

  47. DEF says:

    ))) Guys, I’m from Russia and I could tell you that hacking of billboards in Russia is very simple))
    All you need are big ladder, crowbar, keyboard/mouse and you must have the nerve. There is just pc inside billboard. The pc has win xp and has no connection like wifi. And sometimes that pc without password))))))

  48. Bob says:

    This is what happens shen you trust Windows for your work..,

  49. Maj says:

    When you copy and paste from news articles make sure you correct the germinglish.

  50. YaBa says:

    here’s the software to some of the billboards:

    http://www.darklighttech.com/uploadfile/download/ledstudio10.rar

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