Channel Nine Cyber Attack

A cyber-attack disrupts the Australian Channel Nine’s live broadcasts

A sponsored state cyber-attack is most likely behind the attack that disrupted the live broadcast on Australia’s Channel Nine TV network on Sunday this week.

The broadcaster discovered that it was not able to go on air for its normal Sunday morning programmes, forcing it to tweet “A cyber-attack on our systems has disrupted live broadcasts today however, we have put processes in place to ensure we’re able to resume our normal broadcast schedule.”

The attack had not disrupted Channel Nine’s email or website.

Alicia Loxley, the Nine Afternoon News Melbourne presenter updated viewers, saying “Cyber hackers have targeted Channel Nine in a massive ransomware attack bringing down its network Australia-wide. No one has claimed responsibility for the bug but IT experts are working to bring systems back on-line”. The following day the TV presenter Karl Stefanovic joked about “the Russians” on the network.

The channel said it was unable to air it’s Sunday morning live news program, Weekend Today, which runs from 7:00am to 1:00pm from their Sidney studio.

“We wish to inform you there has been a cyber-attack on our systems which has disrupted live broadcasts out of Nine Sydney,” the company emailed to its staff. 

On the same day, Australia’s parliament raised concerns of a possible attack as well. It is unclear if the two events are connected.

The Assistant Defence Minister, Andrew Hastie, stated access to numerous IT and email systems at Parliament House had been cut as a precaution.

The attack on the Channel Nine Network was carried out by ransomware, however no ransom was received. This may indicate state backing. Some have debated if it was related to the fact that the network was airing on Monday an investigation about the Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding state sponsored foreign poisonings. However, this is unproven conjecture.

Internal IT staff worked hard all of Sunday to resume normal service, with the regular live 6pm news airing from Melbourne.

This attack has become the largest known cyber-attack on a media company in Australia’s history, raising concerns about the general cyber security of Australian infrastructure. Australia is the top country in the Asia Pac region for number of cyber-attacks.  With the Australian Parliament being hit hard in 2019 by what they believe was a China state attack, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) will sure to be scrutinising this latest attack very carefully.

Not only are ransomware attacks getting increasingly sophisticated, the nature of ransomware attacks has also evolved to the point where organisations are experiencing significant disruptions. It is estimated that there are 4000 ransomware attacks daily, with organisations paying an average of £169,000 and experiencing an average of 19 days downtime.

With more state backing, these attacks are becoming increasingly well-funded, complex and common. Contact Fundamentals First about how our Security Operations Centre (SOC) will operate as an extension to your in-house teams, providing the increased protection you require.

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Cyber-attacks from state-backed hackers to organised ransomware attacks is continuing to become an increasing challenge for many organisations. In fact, the continued increasing trend in cybercrime and cyber-attacks, including breaches, phishing, access management and endpoint security attacks, contributed to an estimated 12% Compound Annual Growth Rate in cyber security IT spending by the end of 2021. 

This challenge has worsened over 2020 and 2021, with many organisations having their employees working at home due to coronavirus. The mass adoption of new ways of working, the provisioning of remotely distributed networks, and unplanned IT solutions implemented at speed has opened new avenues for cyber-attacks. Reports of new malware targeting home worker systems using sophisticated machine learning to optimise the attack and evade detection have been discovered.

Many cyber security teams are facing the impossible task of securing unplanned, sprawling corporate and potentially vulnerable home networks.

With 51% of organisations being hit by ransomware in the last year, 34% are saying that lack of skilled resources is their most significant security operations issue when determining root cause of a security incident. As a result, 65% of organisations have already outsourced some or all of their cyber security controls.

Organisations with a single internal Head of Information Security, or even a small cyber security team are struggling to keep up with the advancing complexity of attacks and technology. Over half of security professionals surveyed stated that they were too busy completing business as usual daily tasks to be able to concentrate on the larger issues, like implementing improved security controls.

In recognition to this untenable situation, many companies are taking benefit from the advantages of scaling their cyber security solution through an outsourced SOC (Security Operations Centre). An outsourced SOC can scale your cyber protection without you increasing your internal head count. It reduced pressure on HR in finding skilled cyber security experts, and delivers state of the art cyber security solutions at a significantly reduced price point.

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