A massive and powerful cyberattack had taken hold of a French television network on Thursday, 9th of April, such that the latter was unable to keep contact with its channels and audience. TV5Monde had all of its 11 channels disabled. The hacking began at 4 p.m ET. The screens of the 11 networks went blank and dark.
TV5Monde headquarters in Paris, France.
Even worse, TV5Monde lost control of its social media networks, as well as its websites. Its email went down too.
“Everything was done in a very synchronized manner,” said Helene Zemmour, the network’s digital director. “Shortly after the beginning of the attack, our internal computer system fell, and other programs followed.”
The network explained that ISIS logos and markings appeared on its social media accounts. However, neither ISIS nor any other group has claimed responsibility for the deed. Could it be some amateur trying to get away with it, or is it truly the work of ISIS?
“It’s been a very powerful attack, because we have very strong firewalls which had been checked — and that had been checked very recently — and were said to be very safe,” said Yves Bigot, TV5Monde’s director. “So obviously it’s a very knowledgeable and powerful cyberattack.”
TV5Monde finally retrieved its website later yesterday, and it issued a communiqué that said it had been “victim of piracy unprecedented in the world history of broadcasting.” Many of the pages displayed the “under maintenance” after control was regained. However, it was reported that only one of the 11 channels was functioning. But, the network’s website did not mention this.
It was then explained that a message written by the hackers, in three languages, Arabic, English, and French, was posted on one of its social media accounts.
The network said a message written in three languages — French, Arabic and English — was then posted on one of its social media sites.
The French government has severely condemned the attack. It affirmed that it would retaliate swiftly.
According to Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the cyberattack stemmed from terrorists’ works. He has also cautioned all TV networks.
“All measures are being implemented, both at the judicial and technical level, and an investigation is underway,” he said.
Furthermore, 500 new jobs will be generated to fight cybercrime, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
Updates: How was the TV5Monde network hacked?
It seems that one of its passwords was unwittingly revealed by one of its reporters, David Delos. While this is only a theory, it is actually plausible that it might have led to the situation.
In an interview with French program 13 Heures, reporter David Delos indirectly disclosed at least 1 password for the social online account. It so happened that he was filmed when he was in front of a staffer’s desk on which were sticky notes and other cards with many account usernames and passwords on them.
As a consequence, the YouTube data of TV5Monde was revealed. Other information, like those pertaining to its Twitter account, was barely visible; it was filmed but too difficult to read.