French television station TV5 Monde was taken off the air following a hack by attackers identifying themselves with ISIS, the Middle Eastern Islamist terrorist group.
The hack also revealed personal information, with the attackers posting identify cards and curriculum vitae of relatives of French soldiers purportedly involved in military action against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
TV5 Monde is broadcast in more than 200 countries worldwide. The attack happened last night at around 10pm, and broadcasts were not resumed until 1am after a three-hour blackout. The hack underlines the risks facing media organisations, especially television channels, from going to all-digital, online-based operations.
“We are no longer able to broadcast any of our channels. Our websites and social media sites are no longer under our control and are all displaying claims of responsibility by Islamic State,” admitted the network’s director Yves Bigot, later adding that its systems had been “severely damaged” by an “unprecedented attack”.
The hackers accused French president Francois Hollande of having made “an unforgivable mistake” involving France in “a war that serves no purpose”. The message on the TV station’s Facebook page continued: “That’s why the French received the gifts of Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher in January.”
Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher refer to the terrorist attacks in January in which a total of 17 people were murdered by Islamist gunmen.
However, while news is only now filtering out about the attack, there are very little details about how the hackers were able to penetrate the organisation’s IT security – whether it was down to a lapse in security controls and procedures, or the attackers had some form of inside information or help to aid them.
The attack comes in the same week that Lloyd’s insurer Aegis London warned that it expected a cyber attack to cause an organisation to fail this year.
“These attacks are now increasingly destructive as we have seen with the recent attack on Sony Entertainment and statistics from the Organisation of American States,” said Joe Hancock, cyber security specialist at Aegis London.