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Ransomware Attack Takes TV Stations Off the Air

Sinclair Broadcasting battles cyberattack
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2021 6:15 PM CDT
Ransomware Attack Takes TV Stations Off the Air
Sinclair Broadcast Group, based in Hunt Valley, Md., says it's working on ceasing disruptions caused by a ransomware attack.   (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

(Newser) – One of the largest operators of TV stations in the US is dealing with disruptions caused by a ransomware attack. Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Monday that it was hit over the weekend. The company said hackers stole data and encrypted some operational servers, NBC reports, knocking them out of service. The attack "has caused—and may continue to cause—disruption to parts of the Company's business," the announcement said. Sinclair has 185 television stations, per the Washington Post.

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Dozens of the stations' newscasts and some NFL games were knocked off the air, per the Hollywood Reporter. "Technical issues have kicked us off the air this morning," a host on a Sinclair station in Columbus, Ohio, tweeted Sunday. "It's a corporate wide problem that our engineers are working hard to fix. Hopefully see you soon?" Stations were trying to produce local newscasts without the help of writing, editing or scheduling software, per CNN. "We are still told to broadcast if we can," one journalist said, "so we're doing what we can with our live unit and weather graphics."

Locking up a company's computers and taking data is standard now for cybercriminals, who threaten to leak the data unless a ransom is paid. US stations owned by the Cox Media Group were hit by a similar attack in June, and Australia's 9 News network said in March that its live broadcasts were disrupted. It's Sinclair's live broadcasts that are most affected, especially newscasts. The stations mostly are still on the air, showing national and syndicated programs. (Read more ransomware stories.)

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