Hacking a Teleprompter


EDITED TO ADD (12/4): Consensus is that it's faked.

Posted on December 3, 2008 at 1:59 PM • 22 Comments


MailmanDecember 3, 2008 2:22 PM

If authentic, it's awesome.
I wonder what kind of legal trouble this guy will get into for this in the Netherlands. Judging by the "related videos" in Youtube, this guy is a professional prankster or something.

MailmanDecember 3, 2008 2:33 PM

Ooops, nevermind my first comment.

I'm actually having doubts at the authenticity of this guy's hacks.
In addition to hacking a teleprompter live on TV, this Max person has videos of himself:

- Raising a bridge from a PDA

- Announcing platform changes on the Dutch Railway system

- Broadcasting a cell phone text message to all the girls in a bar

It looks more like he's just timing his videos well to stage his "hacks."

JeroenDecember 3, 2008 2:37 PM

Nah, it's not real. The website mentioned at the end of the video is a recruiting website for an IT company.

TimDecember 3, 2008 2:51 PM

Yeah that is really implausible. Looks like a some company's 'viral' campaign.

There's no way you could do all the things he does. Especially the text one. I'd say they should have gone for faking slightly more realistic things, but it seems to have fooled enough people.

Da ScritchDecember 3, 2008 3:03 PM

Seemed not true because of the way the camera was spoting reactions.

But it is so well done... we want it with... eeeeerrrr... Bill O'Reilly ?

The first time learning Dutch has been useful for anythingDecember 3, 2008 3:24 PM

In the youtube response video posted above by Max, the translation is essentially that they did it as part of a marketing campaign for an IT firm.

David KeechDecember 3, 2008 5:58 PM

Some of us still remember when his original set of videos came out a year or two ago.

It was a fairly successful viral marketing project considering it hit people who didn't even understand the language it was in. It was intended as a recruiting drive for the IT company he worked for.

It was well staged but it is not authentic hacking the way it is portrayed.

Mind you, I'd be interested in working for them...

T ManDecember 3, 2008 6:26 PM

Hey, if you've seen Anchorman you know that changing the text on the TelePrompTer has been done before...

MikeADecember 3, 2008 6:57 PM

...changing the text on the TelePrompTer has been done before...

So has the older hack of setting fire to the talking-head's paper copy, but it can still be funny.

KeithDecember 4, 2008 3:48 AM

And didn't Bill Clinton get up to read his first State of the Union address, only to discover that the wrong version was on the teleprompter?
(As I remember, he kept going with the correct version from memory until one of his aides realised what was happening and changed the teleprompter.)

LyleDecember 4, 2008 7:48 AM

I wonder if people would stop blog-spamming if the comments mechanism didn't let them post links.

aikimarkDecember 4, 2008 10:50 AM

Several years ago, I thought that it would be an interesting white hat hacking exercise to evaluate the level of protection of an airline's welcome/safety video. On some larger jets there are monitors that play airline videos before the plane takes off. During long flights, these monitors play the in-flight movies. These welcome/safety videos aren't as entertaining as some Southwest flight attendants' spiel.

In reality, this type of hack would probably involve one airline attacking another airline -- corporate/industrial sabotage. Although, I can see some 'merry pranksters' getting a good laugh out of such a hack, as shown in this teleprompter hack video.

vaderDecember 4, 2008 5:18 PM

From the comments on U-Tube:

"Well, it gets you in jail easily - and what, if the victims don't get the "joke" and terrorist charges are filed which happens easier than you'd imagine. :/"


danDecember 7, 2008 9:07 PM

Getting into a teleprompter isn't that hard, providing you can get access to the same network that it is connected to... Most prompters use a FTP polling technique. It sits there and reads the same directory over and over to see if something has changed, and then places it in the queue to be displayed by the operator with the up/down fast/slow controller...


AndreDecember 8, 2008 10:51 AM

The link in question may be fake, but this one isn't: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3umkSmzILKU

Charles Barkley calls himself a dumbass.

He does Ron Burgundy proud.

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.