x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Forbidden YouTube video appears on a tourist kiosk

An electronic touch-screen kiosk at a major hotel was hacked to show an online video demonstrating humorous uses for condoms.

ABU DHABI // An electronic touch-screen kiosk at a major hotel was hacked to show an online video demonstrating humorous uses for condoms, prompting an investigation by tourism authorities. The video appeared on a kiosk at the Souk Qaryat al Beri, adjacent to the Shangri-La Hotel and operated by Abu Dhabi Tourist Authority. "The relevant ADTA department has launched an investigation into this situation, and the kiosk at the Shangri-La has been closed," said a spokesman for the authority.

ADTA said it would release more information when it became available. Ways to hack into video kiosks are widely available online. The booths are said to be easy to manipulate and poorly guarded. One website said people could gain information about the unique IP address and operating system of a kiosk by momentarily unplugging it. Someone manipulated the kiosk at the Shangri-La to circumvent the visitor advice system and connected to YouTube via a web browser. The prankster appeared to have searched for the word "condom" on the video-sharing site, and the kiosk was displaying the result in full screen.

Abu Dhabi has 26 such kiosks since the authority began installing them in December 2008. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority routinely blocks internet users from accessing YouTube videos deemed to be obscene. jgerson@thenational.ae