Local and national weather forecast provider The Weather Channel suffered a ransomware attack that temporarily prevented it from going live on the air.
Regular viewers got a surprise when they tuned into The Weather Channel on the morning of 18 April. They were expecting to watch “AMHQ,” the network’s live morning show which begins at 06:00 EST. Instead, they found that the channel was running “Heavy Rescue: 401” as taped programming.
Not surprisingly, some viewers complained on Twitter about the unexpected change.
Where are the weather channel people they are showing heavy rescue instead of the weather
— debra hughes (@debbyhughes007) April 18, 2019
AMHQ returned to the air at around 07:39 EST. Following a brief commercial break, anchor Jim Cantore explained that The Weather Channel had fallen “victim of a malicious software attack.” Anchor Stephanie Abrams confirmed this account and said how the entire network “wanted to say thank you again for your patience and we want to get right to today’s severe weather.”
A short time thereafter, The Weather Channel posted an official update about the attack on its social media channels.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) April 18, 2019
We experienced issues with this morning’s live broadcast following a malicious software attack on the network. 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.
The network didn’t publicly provide additional details about what the digital attack entailed. However, the FBI told the Wall Street Journal that it was investigating a ransomware incident at the channel.
This isn’t the first time that digital threat actors have targeted the broadcasting sector. Back in 2015, pro-ISIS hackers took TV5MONDE, a French TV network, off the air. They also managed to hijack the station’s website and Facebook page.
The infection suffered by The Weather Channel highlights how broadcasting organizations need to take steps to protect themselves against today’s evolving digital threats. That includes preventing a ransomware infection. Here’s a great resource that can help them get started.