April Fools Prank with a Raspberry Pi

by Danny Zawacki

So I have this idea for a April Fool’s day prank using my Raspberry Pi and for the most part, it’s completely possible.

Background

I work in an open office space and everyone can see what everyone else is doing on their computers. Some people sit on Facebook in their downtime, others look at cars, and one uses Pinterist. But everyone, and I mean everyone, reads the news. For the most part, they use CNN as their goto news source. When a big story comes up, everyone will turn and face each other and discuss the event and try to decide, with only the information from the news, whether it could have happened. They particularly like stories where there are unknowns so they can tell you with finality what they think know happened. 

The Idea

I want to plug a Raspberry Pi into the network and have it direct all traffic to CNN to a locally hosted version of CNN which pulls in stories from The Onion’s RSS feed instead.

The How

In recent weeks, I’ve had a lot of downtime at work so I’ve researched things that I can do with my Raspberry Pi now that my Chromecast has made it obsolete as a home theater PC. I’ve decided on a network security device with built-in ad blocking. While reading the tutorials on how to do these things with the Pi, I made sure I understood all the concepts that they were having me do. Basically, you tell the router to look at the Pi before sending traffic out of the network.

Once I realized what I wanted to do, making the connection to using the Pi for this happened very quickly. I’d have to only do a basic setup on the Pi, to have it send all traffic to its normal sources unless it’s to CNN.com using the same principles of net nanny software, then it get’s sent to a locally hosted version of the website which pulls the articles in from The Onion’s RSS feed, making it dynamic throughout the day. It won’t be the easiest thing to spoof the CNN website, though I imagine the internet could help me do that. 

I am in a unique position for this prank. I work in an office that doesn’t know much about network security. I have easy access to the “network closet” which is really just a corner of the store-room across from my desk. So, plugging the Raspberry Pi into the network wouldn’t be a problem. Also, I checked this yesterday, but the administrative password for the network router hasn’t been changed to the default, so it would be really easy to alter the router’s DNS addresses to point to the Raspberry Pi.

Conclusion

So, given that I have as much time as I do, I see this being a project that I could actually undertake and would go down in the books as my best April Fool’s day prank. It’s already the best idea I’ve had for an April Fool’s day prank as well. If anyone out there wants to help me with this, please let me know as I’ll definitely need a bit of help setting up the spoof CNN website and a bit of help programming the Raspberry Pi. 

Also, if I do get this darned plan into action, I’ll try my best to post the code I use to get it all running, for when you want to mess with some friends or family (or a small business like me). 


2 thoughts on “April Fools Prank with a Raspberry Pi

  • Jimmy

    Do you have any updates on this? We have a friend we are looking to prank in a similar way (although he’s a little more savvy on the network security side so we’ll need to work through DNS access, hiding the pi, etc).

    Reply
    • Danny Zawacki Post author

      Jimmy, I wish I could dump the code for you but I haven’t had time to look into it since conceiving it. I might look into it later on, but no plans/time for it at the moment.

      If you do get it working, please send me the details of how it went, I’d love to hear the reaction.

      Reply

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