Clay County deputies remove racial slurs from hacked electronic banners

Clay County deputies remove racial slurs from hacked electronic banners

Clay County, Florida. Racist messages posted on two private email boards at the O’Cliff farm early Thursday morning have been removed by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

The company that owns the signs told News4Jax that someone broke into their computers overnight to change the signs from advertising free COVID testing to racial slurs.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook that they had been notified about the vandalized paintings and when they checked they found signs with hate messages that included racial insults.

One of these signs is visible to drivers and is located on Plantation Oaks Boulevard between O’Cliff High School and O’Cliff Junior High School. Representatives said the other sign was in a parking lot at O’Cliffe Community Park a quarter mile from the first sign.

The sheriff’s office said it learned of the situation after the 911 call.

The deputies who responded disabled the electronic signals and are still investigating who sent the messages.


It is believed that someone broke into an unlocked and vulnerable computer to reprogram the tags, which have been used to advertise a free coronavirus test for the past three weeks.

United Rentals, which rented the signs, told News4Jax that they were left overnight with the computer programming the message the sign unlocked and a sign used to type the computer password in a visible location. That’s all someone needed to reprogram the tags with racial slurs.

Cybersecurity expert Chris Hammer said the tags were intentionally placed to be easily reprogrammable.

“Road signs are very simple computers, limited page memory because you don’t need a roadside crew having to go through long complicated programming procedures or have specialized hardware or anything else,” Hammer said.

A United Rentals spokesperson said by phone that they “obviously would never condone the message placed there” and the company that hired them had secured the computers so that no one else could reprogram the tag’s message.


“To me that doesn’t make sense. What’s the point? What’s the motive? What do people get out of it other than hurt people’s feelings?” said O’Cliff resident Kirston Johnson.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said anyone with information on the implicated is asked to call 904-264-6512.

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