Doofus Of The Day #859

Today’s award goes to the idiot(s) in Target Stores’ management who approved and/or purchased and/or installed a system like this.

Gina Young was shopping at US superstore Target on Thursday morning – when she and the other shoppers suddenly heard a surprising announcement over the loudspeaker.

Explicit audio from a pornographic film was blasted out for all to hear. And it kept playing. And playing. For 15 minutes.

. . .

And it’s not an isolated incident. According to local media, it’s at least the fourth time this prank has happened since April. In one instance, a store had to be evacuated.

So what’s going on? Are mischievous staff causing trouble? Have Target’s systems been hacked?

Well not quite – but the cause is interesting, and yet another example of how systems are left with vulnerabilities by creators who never imagined people might have malicious intent.

An email obtained by the BBC, sent by company bosses to Target store managers across the US on Friday afternoon, outlines a weakness in the store’s PA system being used to carry out the prank.

“Non-Target team members are attempting to access the intercom system by calling stores and requesting to be connected to line [xxxx],” it reads.

“If connected, callers have control of the intercom until they hang up.

“We are actively working to limit intercom access to the Guest Services phone only. In the meantime, inform all operators to not connect any calls to line [xxxx].”

So in other words, if you ring up Target and ask to be put through to a certain extension, you’re suddenly live on the PA system for as long as you like.

There’s more at the link.

I can only wonder why local competitors haven’t already used the trick to call up Target’s PA system and broadcast competitive advertising direct to their target audience . . .



  1. This isn't a problem limited to just Target. When I was a kid I remember someone called the local hospital and got the PA system…hilarity ensued.

    Even now, one of the fire alarm systems we monitor had an issue some months back (suppposedly now fixed) where an computer that was just dialing random numbers to leave messages or looking for a modem or whatever kept connecting to the remote access number for this system. After several days of false fire alarms it finally stopped.

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