Sinclair TV stations disrupted across the US in apparent ransomware attack

tv-radio-broadcast

TV broadcasts for Sinclair-owned channels have gone down today across the US in what the stations have described as technical issues, but which sources told The Record to be a ransomware attack.

The incident occurred in the early hours of the day and took down the Sinclair internal corporate network, email servers, phone services, and the broadcasting systems of local TV stations.

As a result of the attack, many channels weren’t able to broadcast morning shows, news segments, and scheduled NFL games, according to a barrage of tweets coming from viewers and the TV channels themselves.

Sinclair-outageImage: The Record

“Internally, it’s bad,” a source who had to call Sinclair employees on their personal numbers to get more details about the attack, told The Record earlier today in a private conversation.

The attack could have been isolated, but many sections of the Sinclair IT network were interconnected through the same Active Directory domain, allowing the attackers to reach broadcasting systems for local TV stations, something that is not possible in most companies — which like to separate IT networks from OT networks for this very same reason.

However, the attack did not reach the part of the Sinclair broadcast system called “the master control,” which allowed the company to replace the scheduled local programming on the affected channels with a national feed.

Sinclair DiscordImage: The Record

At the time of writing, it is unclear how many Sinclair TV stations have been impacted. A Sinclair spokesperson could not be contacted via email or phone as these systems were down because of the attack.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group is one of the largest media empires in the US, controlling 294 television stations in 89 markets across the US. The Record found tens of Sinclair stations, from Washington to Maryland and from Illinois to Texas, which announced technical issues today.

Signs of the major outage that is still underway can also be seen via the Hulu Support Twitter account, which has spent most of the day responding to issues caused by the Sinclair incident.

Apologies for the trouble! There's an issue with the feeds from some local stations that's currently under investigation. For now, you may be able to use your Hulu + Live TV login to watch via the network app/site: https://t.co/qxlmnIPbSj.

— Hulu Support (@hulu_support) October 17, 2021

Ransomware attacks that hit major TV and radio stations and took down live broadcasts also are not that rare and have happened before. Past incidents include:

The attack is expected to hit Sinclair very hard as the local stations will be losing advertising revenue until they regain control over their broadcasting systems.

The post Sinclair TV stations disrupted across the US in apparent ransomware attack appeared first on The Record by Recorded Future.

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