A reported ransomware attack that affected the online live streams of Cox Media Group television and radio stations across the country entered its sixth day without a resolution on Wednesday, with no apparent end in sight.
Cox Media owns 33 TV stations in 20 markets, 65 radio stations in 11 markets and several multi-platform streaming video and digital platforms. The TV stations, in markets like Boston; Pittsburgh; Dayton, Ohio; Seattle; and Tulsa, Oklahoma are a mixture of major network affiliates like ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC and My Network TV and independents. Beginning on June 3, live online streams of its TV and radio station programming began to be affected.
According to Inside Radio, the attack was centered on internal networks and live streaming capabilities such as web streams and mobile apps at the Cox Media properties. Websites for the stations and most programming remained unharmed, but according to Inside Radio some live stream programming and newscasts had to be canceled.
Inside Radio said Tuesday that the online feed for one Cox Media Group radio station (Atlanta's WSB-WSBB (750/95.5) returned to its desktop player and mobile app on Friday (June 4), but was down again on June 8. A check of the station online on Wednesday afternoon showed that WSB-WSBB was back online. But other radio stations like Jacksonville, Florida ESPN Radio affiliate WOKV 690 were still offline.
In addition, Cox Media Group’s corporate website also was inaccessible Wednesday.
The attack apparently didn’t affect traditional broadcast or pay TV feeds for the channels. Dish Network, which reached a carriage deal with Cox Media for about 14 channels in December, said it experienced no issues with the broadcaster.
A check of its station websites on Wednesday, June 9 showed that the live feeds were still being affected. Charlotte, South Carolina ABC affiliate WSOC-TV, Dayton, Ohio CBS affiliate WHIO-TV and Tulsa, Oklahoma Fox affiliate KOKI-TV posted disclaimers on their websites that live streams were currently unavailable and that the stations were “working diligently to bring it back online.” Other stations, like Orlando, Florida ABC affiliate WFTV offered partial feeds of past newscasts on their websites.
Cox Media Group did not return repeated requests for comment.
Ransomware attacks have been on the upswing and the U.S. government warned last week that companies should be diligent in trying to prevent them. After energy company Colonial Pipeline paid $4.4 million to stop a ransomware attack that shutdown its East Coast operations for a few days in May, the U.S. Dept. of Justice said it has recovered about $2.3 million of those funds.
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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