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UK TV Station Hacked by Fancy Bear Group

Fri 27 Jan 2017

It has been reported that the Kremlin-linked hacking group, known as Fancy Bear, infiltrated the computer systems of a UK TV broadcaster and remained undetected for 12 months. Fancy Bear are the same group alleged to have compromised the US Democratic National Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and sections of the German Parliament. It is believed that the hacking group was able to see all communications coming in and out of the as-yet-unnamed TV network, giving them access to internal communications and information pertaining to news stories being aired or discussed. While the network was infiltrated, it wasn’t tampered with, leading security experts to believe that this may have been a ‘dry run’, for future attacks.

More Attacks on UK TV Networks

Former UK Security and Counter-Terrorism Minister, Baroness Neville-Jones, said that the group “are active in Europe and they have various targets”. One shouldn’t be surprised they would be interested in media outlets. Neville-Jones’ words seem to be borne out by further reports that suggest that UK broadcasters have been subject to an increasing number of attacks, in recent months. In September 2016, it was revealed that GCHQ saw off a cyber attack that threatened more UK broadcasters, including Channel 4, Sky, ITV and the BBC.

Fancy Bear’s MO

Fancy Bear’s modus operandi would appear to be the use of spear-phishing; the use of malware implants to target key personnel within organisations. Often, the malware is sent as part of an email, which purports to be from a known and trusted source. Once the link is clicked or the email acted upon, the malware is activated, giving hackers access to the desired computer systems. While this might sound relatively benign, it should be noted that Fancy Bear was the group responsible from bringing down TV5 Monde, the French international broadcaster, in April last year.

Political Agendas?

In response to the accusations that the group is linked to Russian security services, the Russian Embassy in London issued a reply, saying that “without any details and proof, we cannot make a judgement on this allegation. This is a murky business; a sort of free-for-all in terms of politicisation and seems to be used as a means of keeping afloat Cold War politics”.


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