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

Remember this from ten years ago?

August 2005: Computer worm 'Zotob' infects CNN TV

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.

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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 is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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