We live in an age where companies suffer data breaches and hacks of various types on a disturbingly regular basis. Credit card companies, social networks, and online retailers are the usual targets, and sometimes the thieves make off with payment information, personal details, and other data they shouldn’t have access to. It happens. Now, it’s happened to The Weather Channel.
Early this morning The Weather Channel was forced to default to a taped recording of one of its programs instead of its typical morning show broadcast after a “malicious software attack” made it impossible for the show to go on. Details surrounding the attack are scant and there’s lots of unanswered questions here, but the biggest one is obviously: Who would hack The Weather Channel?
“We experienced issues with this morning’s live broadcast following a malicious software attack on the network.” The Weather Channel said in a statement. “We were able to restore live programming quickly through backup mechanisms. Federal law enforcement is actively investigating the issue. We apologize for any inconvenience to viewers as we work to resolve the matter.”
When live programming returned, anchors apologized for the downtime and repeated that the reason for the issues was some kind of software attack, though the specifics have still not been revealed.
It’s also unclear whether this was a targeted attack — if one or more individuals specifically targeted The Weather Channel to victimize by some time of software exploit — or if the network’s computer systems were compromised purely out of chance.
Ransomware and other types of malware that prevents access to certain computer files and functions, has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years, and while the developers of such nasty software love to snag big fish like a TV network, it’s often seeded onto the web in a much less direct fashion.
A Weather Channel employee clicking a bad link in a spam email might have been all that was needed to bring the entire operation to a screeching halt. We’ll have to wait and see if more details are released in the coming days.