Cyber attacks against TV stations aren’t a new thing. Just ask CNN

Graham Cluley

Remember this from ten years ago?

CNN got hit hard by the Zotob worm in August 2005. In fact, its newsroom got hit so hard by the worm (which exploited vulnerabilities in Windows 2000) that its regular programming was disrupted.

When CNN was wallloped, the news network naturally made Zotob its headline story.

And yes, Zotob was a problem and had affected some companies besides CNN. But it probably wasn’t as big a deal as they made out at the time.

But then, everything is a bigger deal when it happens to you.

Microsoft stumped up a $250,000 reward for any information leading to the apprehension of the worm’s creators, and within two weeks arrests were made.

What’s different about the CNN attack of ten years ago and the attack that has just taken place against TV5MONDE is that CNN wasn’t targeted. It was just unlucky enough to have vulnerable computers and be hit by a worm that was trying to infect as many computers around the world as possible.

TV5MONDE got hit by a targeted attack, by hackers who had a political agenda and wanted to bloody the nose of a high-profile target.

That’s the kind of world we live in today.

Frankly, things were probably better when the worst we had to worry about was widespread worms that didn’t discriminate in their victims.

Today’s hacker is all too often exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities to target specific organisations, with the intention of either surreptitiously spying on activity and stealing information, or causing damage to a firm’s brand by disrupting their activities or embarrassing them with website and social media hijacks.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.
Never miss a thing. Sign up for the free GCHQ newsletter from Graham Cluley.
GET UPDATES