Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (SBG) is an American telecommunications multi-industry company. It was founded by Julian Sinclair Smith in 1971 and is now operated by his descendants.
The Fortune 500 company and the second-biggest TV network owns or operates 294 TV stations all over the country in more than 89 markets, most of which are situated in the Midwest and South, and is the largest owner of stations affiliated with ABC, Fox, and The CW.
In the early hours of October 17, 2021, Sinclair-owned channels done down with their TV broadcast across the United States. While the authorities claimed this interruption to be a technical issue, various sources confirmed a ransomware attack.
As a result of the incident, Sinclair’s internal corporate network, email servers, phone services, and the broadcasting systems of local TV stations were compete gone down.
According to several tweets by the viewers and the TV channels themselves, it was confirmed that many TV stations couldn’t broadcast their morning shows, news segments, and scheduled NFL games.
Source: The Record
As the Sinclair IT network is interconnected via the same Active Directory Domain, the attacker could infiltrate and reach the broadcasting systems for local TV stations.
However, the attacker couldn’t get access to “the master control.” An essential part of the Sinclair broadcast system allowed the company to switch the scheduled local programming on the affected channels with a national broadcasting feed.
Unfortunately, it is still unclear that exactly how many Sinclair TV stations were affected by this attack. Hulu Support Twitter account can be seen spending most of the day responding to issues caused by this 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 on major TV and Radio stations that took down live broadcasts are not rare.
You can find few examples of such incidents below:
- Cox Media Group (June 2021)
- France’s M6 (October 2019)
- Entercom (September 2019)
- The Weather Channel (April 2019)
There have been a string of ransomware attacks targeting US companies in the past few months. Some of the recent attacks have been the T-mobile data breach, AT&T data breach, and the latest attack on Twitch.