Wed, 08 Dec 2021

Ransomware attack closes Sinclair TV network

Robert Besser
24 Oct 2021, 16:12 GMT+10

HUNT VALLEY, Maryland: An outage on 16th October that affected Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates many local TV stations across the U.S., was due to a ransomware attack.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission published a statement from Sinclair confirming ransomware caused the outage, two days after viewers were told the blackouts were due to technical difficulties.

"Certain servers and workstations in its environment were encrypted with ransomware. Data was also taken from the company's network," the report stated.

Late this week, employees still had problems accessing email and signing into systems, but those issues are gradually being resolved, a source told The Verge.

Sinclair's report noted that its IT infrastructure is still not fully operational.

The attack prevented Sinclair from broadcasting local news, sports, and other scheduled content. The Record noted the attack could have been more serious, as the hackers were unsuccessful in taking over the broadcasters' master control.

As a result, Sinclair was able to replace some scheduled shows with a national feed.

The Record reported that the ransomware attack was preceded by a call for a password reset across Sinclair's entire network following the discovery of a "potentially serious network security issue," but it is unclear whether this security issue is linked to the attack.

Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common, affecting some high-profile companies this year, such as Colonial Pipeline, Gigabyte, and CNA Financial.

According to a report by the U.S. Treasury, ransomware payouts in 2021 are on track to be greater than the combined payouts during the previous decade.

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