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Ransomware Prevents The Weather Channel From Going Live

On Thursday 18th April at 06:00 EST, regular viewers tuned into The Weather Channel but little did they know that it had suffered a ransomware attack, preventing them from going live. Expecting to watch the networks live morning show “AMHQ”, they soon found the channel was showing “Heavy Rescue: 401” a Canadian reality show. The interruption lasted around 90 minutes before they were able to restore affected computers using backups, returning back online around 07:39 EST.

The Weather Channel confirmed through Twitter that it was the victim of “a malicious software attack”. Unsurprisingly, some disgruntled viewers used the social media platform to complain about the incident.

The Weather Channel tweeted out the following; “We experienced issues with this morning’s live broadcast following a malicious software attack on the network. We were able to restore live programming quickly through backup mechanisms. Federal law enforcement is actively investigating the issue. We apologise for any inconvenience to viewers as we work to resolve the matter.”

There has been no detailed report from the network surrounding what the attack consisted of or whether a ransom was demanded, however, reports suggest that the FBI told the Wall Street Journal, it is investigating a ransomware incident.

Ransomware, which is used by cybercriminals, is a type of malware used to take control of a target’s computer. Once installed, they take your computer hostage and block access to files through encryption, often looking to force money from their victim and in return allowing access back to their computer. This malware is often spread by visiting a harmful site or through phishing emails.

Prior to this attack, large banks, hospitals and even local governments have been a target by hackers. Previously, in 2015, the broadcasting sector was targeted when a French TV network, TV5MONDE, was taken off air by hackers. Eleven channels which belonged to the French TV network were unable to transmit programmes after a cyber-attack.

With the number of ransomware attacks increasing across all industries, it highlights the importance of backups and how organisations, especially broadcasters, must have preventative measures in place to combat increasing digital threats.


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