There Are Even Instructions Available For “Hacking” OOH Media Faces

October 1, 2019 by Dave Haynes

Let’s assume the persons who hacked digital screens in Auckland and Detroit this past weekend, replacing advertising with naughty movies, were more pranksters than serious hackers.

But there are also organized efforts out there to “hack” backlit posters on transit shelters and street furniture in major cities like London. It is no great stretch to think these groups that are offended by the advertising by at least some brands would dearly love to also “hack” the digital versions of these posters.

A London friend sent along a photo grab of a street furniture poster replaced with one that provides highly-detailed information on how to open one of these big, expensive OOH mediaco display cases and replace the printed material.

Though it is probably VERY easy to find this online, I’ve blurred it just enough here. It’s not my role or inclination to encourage this, and I also don’t want the cranky emails from the media companies.

There are also videos on YouTube that go into what to do, all the way down to what to wear to make the “workers” appear legit. Again, I don’t want/need the grief associated with publicizing those videos, but they exist. One had almost 9,000 views and comments included requests for guidance, such as: “I’m in UK. I really want to get into the bus stops here to remove McDonalds propaganda and educate the folk with some true food facts.”

This could easily be a problem for digital OOH media network operators. The smart ones will have locked the screens/players as best they can, but they will always be somewhat vulnerable to really determined and talented hackers. There are other, smaller operators who are probably more at risk because they either don’t perceive a real threat, or don’t have the in-house or contractor knowledge and skills to secure their devices.

There’s also an ongoing problem, certainly in New York, with real vandalism that is likely way more about rage and health issues than being upset with a brand.

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