FBI, Atlanta Police Investigating Buckhead Billboard Hack

As heard on the radio

How susceptible are digital billboards to unwanted tampering?

That’s the question some are asking after people in Buckhead were subjected to an image that grabbed a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons.

Over the weekend, those traveling near Peachtree and East Paces Ferry Road were mooned via electronic billboard.

Flashing among the digital ads, a photo popped up of a naked white man bent over forward in a position not fit for description on a public radio website.  

The Atlanta Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are looking into the incident.

“Everything in our investigation leads us to believe that someone hacked this billboard from an outside source via computer and/or Internet,” said APD spokesperson Sgt. Gregory Lyon, who said similar issues have been reported in several other states.  He said the image is popular on the social media site Reddit. 

The owner of the billboard, Monumedia, is currently in a legal dispute with the city of Atlanta over whether it violates outdoor advertising laws. Lyon, however, said those issues likely had no bearing on why this company was targeted by a hacker. 

Bill Ripp, who’s with Outdoor Advertising Association of America, said this is an issue the organization has been looking at the issue for years.

“I think every operator takes this very seriously and tries to implement procedures that would minimize anyone doing that,” Ripp said.

Ripp said the group has made recommendations to its members on how to protect themselves against a hack, like encrypting messages and putting a firewall in place. However, he said it’s up to each company to take those steps.