Lucerne Main Station Rickrolled after information board hack

Lucerne Main Station Rickrolled after information board hack

Be it a slightly suspicious link or a mysterious message from a friend with a harmless-looking URL attached, it’s likely that a majority of people who use the internet have been “Rickrolled” at some point in their lives. Now, Rick Astley’s iconic hit Never Gonna Give You Up has adorned an information board at the main station in Lucerne, after a suspected hack.

Lucerne Main Station info board hacked to play Astley hit

It’s safe to say that we’re no strangers to the 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up by British pop icon Rick Astley. With the ear-catching and over-the-top music production of famed producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman, coupled with the slightly awkward moves of Astley in the music video, it’s safe to say that when it comes to hit potential, you wouldn’t get it from any other guy.

On April 5, the smiling face of Astley was projected in a most unlikely place: a touch-screen information board in Lucerne Main Station. A user on the online forum Reddit took a picture of the offending screen with the caption: "Someone took over a monitor at Lucerne train station." 

Never gonna give you up hack leaves SBB baffled

Speaking to 20 Minuten, a spokesperson for Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) - the main public transport provider in Switzerland - said that for a long time they had no idea what had been going on, only that somehow, someone had managed to infiltrate the screen’s operating system and play the meme. As soon as they were made aware of the situation, SBB referred the case to its Cyber Security Operation.

They soon concluded that the monitor had developed a technical fault which allowed users to navigate the system freely. SBB confirmed that the screen will be replaced with an updated model where “no interaction with the operating system is technically possible.”

Sadly, for people hoping that the same trick can be pulled on other SBB devices at stations across the country, their hearts will be aching for quite a while: the company confirmed that "based on the investigations, we can rule out that an intervention on other customer information devices is possible."

What is Rickrolling?

Despite being a hit in its own right, clips and links to the original music video of Never Gonna Give You Up started to be circulated as a “joke” by online users around 2006. The concept of surprising someone with the music video first became popular in 2007 after the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV by Rockstar Games was so popular that their website crashed. 

With promises of being able to show the full trailer to fans, 4Chan user Shawn Cotter shared a link which would go on to direct thousands of users not to their first look at the game, but to the 80s hit. After being used to censor Scientology videos and as a prank in schools in Switzerland, the US and beyond, by 2008 at least 18 million people had been “Rickrolled” in the United States alone, according to SurveyUSA. 

Never Gonna Give You Up viewed 1,3 billion times on YouTube

By now even Astley was aware of the meme and embraced it fully - he knew the game and he was going to play it. Despite this, the song did not make Astley a millionaire, with him telling The Register in 2010 that the upswing in YouTube and internet views had earnt him a whopping 12 US dollars in royalties. 

Today, the Rickroll meme has largely been consigned to the history books. However, for one person in Lucerne, they're never gonna give it up. Now for what you've all been waiting for, here's the video in its entirety: 

Video: Rick Astley / YouTube

Thumb image credit: / Kraft74

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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