Many people like pranks especially if you are watching someone being tricked. A hacked billboard in Atlanta was made to display obscene images favored by internet pranksters. The owner of the billboard cut off the power supply but that was after the police were alerted about the hack.
The company was allegedly warned about its security vulnerability. A security researcher had earlier passed information to the company that the billboard was prone to attacks and a precaution had to be taken since it runs thousands of video links. Investigations done by the FBI and Homeland are still on going.
The hackers claimed that the billboard was an easy target because it had an easy-to-guess password on its net-connected remote administration system. The billboard is owned by US electric-sign giant Yesco which runs thousands of similar billboards across America.
The obscene image was sent across all the billboards across all the states in America at the same time. Dan Tentler a security expert in a tweet said that he had warned Yesco about the potential attack but they showed no interest to the information. Mr. Tentler said it was easy to find hundreds of other signs on the internet that were vulnerable in the same way, most of the signs were still online after the hack had taken place.
However, a group calling themselves the Assange Shuffle Collective claimed responsibility for the attack but the claim has not been verified.
The hacked billboard story comes at a time when cyber attacks have became the leading cause of data breaches globally. Forbes quoted Dr. Larry Ponemon who said that “The root cause [of cyber attacks] historically was around negligence, incompetence,–not necessarily around criminal activity. It changed this year for the first time. The number one root cause of a data breach is criminal activity–could be insider or external”.
In Kenya there aren’t daily hacking news other than the incompletely managed government websites and social media accounts. In January, hackers demanded a ransom Shs 6.2 million after they accessed NIC Bank’s customer database.
As the incidences of cyber attacks increase globally, local firms and government institutions need to focus on ensuring that the online resources are protected. As a step towards ensuring security of online and offline data, the firms should recruit any known hacker, away from the current tendency of arraigning them in courts.