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Sinclair, which owns nearly 200 TV stations, hit by ransomware attack

Sinclair owns nearly 200 TV stations across the country.


Grace Ferguson


Posted on Oct 18, 2021   Updated on Oct 18, 2021, 11:24 am CDT

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 185 local TV stations across the country, discovered over the weekend that it was the victim of a ransomware attack.

Hackers encrypted some of the company’s servers and computers, disrupted networks, and stole data, though the company is still trying to contain the attack and determine the scope of it. 

The attack affected local stations’ ability to broadcast news programs and air commercials. The company did not go into detail in a Monday press release announcing the incident, but some local stations have posted about the technical difficulties on social media.

Some reported they were unable to watch NFL games as well on Sunday.

Ransomware is software used by hackers to encrypt the computer system of a company or government agency, effectively holding the data hostage. The hackers then demand a ransom to decrypt the data, threatening to leak it if the company doesn’t pay up.

The company was still in the early stages of investigating the incident, it said in its announcement Monday.

In a statement to the Daily Dot, Sinclair confirmed it was the victim of a ransomware attack.

“Sinclair Broadcast Group recently identified a cybersecurity incident involving our network. As a result of the incident, certain devices were encrypted with ransomware, data was taken from our environment, and certain business operations have been disrupted,” the statement read. “A cybersecurity firm that has assisted other companies in similar circumstances was engaged, and law enforcement and other governmental agencies were notified … We are working diligently to address the incident and to restore operations quickly and securely.”

The FBI discourages victims from paying ransoms because it emboldens hackers to attack more companies and agencies. But about a third of companies hit by ransomware attacks still choose to pay the ransom, according to a survey released earlier this year by cybersecurity company Sophos.

This post has been updated with comment from Sinclair.

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*First Published: Oct 18, 2021, 10:15 am CDT