Most Notorious Hacking Attacks on News Media

2013 is increasingly becoming the year of hacking attacks, with major news media outlets and social networking sites becoming hacktivists’ target. While some hackers target government websites to denigrate those portals, some focused on social media and biggest news media worldwide. The most notorious attackers of them are the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA). Led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has attacked a third-party link network called Outbrain to hack major media organizations which are linked to the same network. In addition to the website and the organizations, users of these media portals were also affected and suffered inconvenience to a certain degree. These top media hacks include –

Fox News: Earlier on July 4, 2011, a message popped up stating assassination of President Barack Obama on the Twitter account of Fox News media site. As soon as the incident exploded as an erroneous announcement, a secret service was appointed to investigate the incident. As it found out that the furor was created by a group called Script Kiddies. One of the members of Script Kiddies revealed to Stony Brook University’s Think magazine that they targeted Fox News as “their security would be just as much of a joke as their reporting”.

NBC: Hackers attacked NBC.com in February, 2013 as they loaded the website with the Citadel Trojan malware which were being automatically transferred to visitors’ systems. Visitors put them into potential threat with the ‘drive-by downloading’ malware attack on NBC.com site. The site was also temporarily blacklisted by Google.

AP: another notorious hacking activity included hackers’ taking on Twitter account of Associated Press in April of 2013. They triggered a social media panic by posting a false message stating “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” Though the message turned out to be false, but it cost AP a significant $130 million drop until the White House announced and denied the claim. This was the first big media hack which was hit by Syrian Electronic Army (SEA). Earlier it had also attacked other major media sites including BBC, Reuters, NPR and others. The AP attack involved sending phishing emails to AP reporters containing fake links to dupe reporters to click on those links.

Another major media hack was the attack on the New York Times, made by SEA in August 2013. The attack took place two weeks after the attack on Washington Post’s website thus making the two biggest media hacks of all time. SEA posted a tweet stating “Hi @Twitter, look at your domain, its owned by #SEA:)” which hindered many users to access the account and images; this Twitter breakdown lasted for about 90 minutes while the NYT hack lasted for hours.

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