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MNN, C-SPAN, KNX Among News Networks Hacked

-by Dustin Alexander-Pérez, Senior News Anchor, MNN-West
Updated Sunday, 14 January 2017 • 12:35 P.M. PT
This was the scene in a studio at MNN early Saturday morning when engineers were alerted to a cyber attack on the news networks cyber infrastructure. (Photo: C.J. Zebley of Metro News - West)

Los Angeles, CA, US – Metro News Network's website was hacked and nearly decimated by hackers in a cyber attack that occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, 15 January, 2017 around 4:30 A.M. PT. The independent news wire service's broadcast master control and internet aggregate operation is currently entirely run from the same facility in Southern California.

“Organisations and people that get hacked are violated. It's our freedom of the press and it violates the public's ability to get information,” said Bill Stephens, MNN Chicago Bureau Chief. “It interrupts our business and it angers people.”

Engineers started noticing odd activity presenting itself on MNN's website early Friday afternoon, but dismissed it as a peculiar anomaly But, just hours later, the alarm was sounded as things quickly deteriorated thereafter.

“Unfortunately, who do you make that call to and get out of bed at that time of day and especially being it's the weekend,” asked MNN Engineer C.J. Zebley. Yet, It's not uncommon for networks to only have one or two employees in their operations hub during weekends. And usually one person has multiple responsibilities while they're on duty.

"Metro News Network and our affiliates are committed to providing a safe, family friendly website that is useful and serves a purpose. We won't let these type of incidents ruin our day. We just have more resolve to be one step ahead of anyone that might do us harm this way," stated Debra Haskell, CEO of MNN News.

MNN is just one of several news agencies that have been hacked. C-SPAN was reportedly hacked by unknown sources Thursday, 12 January 2017 during U.S. Senate confirmation hearings. And CBS Radio affiliate KNX-1070's Radio.com website reportedly had troubles as well for several hours Saturday afternoon.

So why is all this happening to news outlets? What is the motivation behind all these attacks? Furthermore, what can be done about it? MNN contacted law enforcement about the early morning cyber warfare and was advised on critical, useful reminders to share with anyone who owns a single computer to those who operate networks or corporate structures of any sort.

It should be noted that MNN has the highest internet, intranet and telecommunications security measures in place. What happened to us was a true reality check that no matter how well things are planned and in place, if someone wants to make a bold statement such as these hackers are doing, they will find a way to infiltrate just about any system they choose.

Even with the best encryption and password changes, there's always the possibility that you're not alone when you think you are in a quiet, darkened room, surfing your computer and internet sites. It's a terrifying thought to know that we have so much protection available to us in the corporate and private sectors, but still have to worry that a cyber threat still lurks just a few steps away.

The United States Department of Homeland Security investigates cyber crimes including hacking along with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service. The following are tips from the DHS about how citizens world wide can stay safe:Never clock on links in e-mails

•Never open attachments in e-mails
•Do NOT give out personal information on the phone or in an e-mail
•Set secure passwords and don't share them with anyone
•Never click on links in e-mail

More information can be found on the DHS site at https://www.dhs.gov/topic/cybersecurity

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