Sinclair hit with ransomware attack

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Sinclair Broadcast Group has confirmed that its IT infrastructure was hit by a major cyber ransomware attack.

The company first began having technical issues in multiple areas of operations Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, according to a release it issued, though some reports indicate issues first began popping up Friday, Oct. 15, 2021.

Sinclair is the second largest TV station owner in the U.S. and owns or operates 193 stations in 100 markets.

It’s not clear how many stations were affected, though social media posts from stations, personalities and the public appear to indicate the attack was widespread.

In its statement, Sinclair said that “certain servers and workstations in its environment were encrypted with ransomware” and that it immediately took action, including hiring a forensic cybersecurity firm.

Many of the company’s stations could not air local news or NFL games and local advertising insertion was also affected.

Employees on social media reported that their newsroom systems were offline, though it’s not immediately clear if that was due to the attack or done as a precaution, and they were producing newscasts with makeshift methods.

At least some stations also suffered control room outages, so newscasts were, when possible, produced via remote production or ENG vehicles and often without graphics, weather maps and other elements.

The attack appears to have hit the company’s internal network and affected email and phone systems as well as broadcast operations, but the attack did not affect master control, so the company was able to offer a generic, national feed in place of normal programming.

Back in July, Sinclair mandated a company-wide password reset over security concerns.

Sinclair also reported that some data appears to have been “taken” from its network, hough it did not offer specifics.

Cox Media Group, a much smaller TV station group, was the victim of a ransomware attack in June 2021.