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Hackers ridicule LAPD on USC digital traffic sign

April 11, 2013|By Richard Winton and Kate Mather

An electronic sign near USC whose display was changed to flash inappropriate messages about the Los Angeles Police Department was unlocked and the message altered using a control panel, the USC police chief said Thursday.

Various pictures of the sign surfaced on Instagram and Twitter on Thursday morning, showing the crude message, which included references to the Police Department, a posterior and "probing."

John Thomas, chief of USC's Department of Public Safety, said the department considered it a "prank" and won't be wasting resources looking for the culprits. Thomas said the sign was not hacked in the traditional computer sense. Instead the suspect or suspects broke through a lock on a panel on the sign and simply adjusted the message, he said.

The electronic traffic sign belongs to USC's public safety department and is used by the school and LAPD Southwest Division to put out generic crime prevention tips.

Pictures of the sign quickly made the social media rounds, drawing attention from students and others with ties to the university.

One person wrote: "Laughed. So. Hard."

"Whoever hacked into LAPD's system and did this ... please let me buy you a drink," another wrote. "Or seven."


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