MEDIA WARFARE - Hacking Live Television

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Last week while working on cyber attacks against media web sites I discovered some information I thought you might benefit from reading.

One of the more significant concerns with cyber warfare is a targeted attack against the news media. There are two different strategies that play here. The first possibility is a disruptive strategy -- where the cyber attack disables the media from reporting on activities and disrupting their ability to inform the public about events that are or have just taken place. The second strategy addresses the use of the media as a source of misinformation. Misinformation and disinformation campaigns are easily mounted and you can even find this tactic addressed in the well known work "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. We have assessed the implication of both of these scenarios using the Scenario Based Intelligence Analysis Tool created by Spy-Ops. The result of that analysis is below.

Scenario 1 - Media DisruptionAn attack against the entire media sector in an attempt to disrupt its ability to communicate with and inform the public is rated a 2.3 on our risk scale.

MEASUREMENT SCORE Cost = 4.3Complexity = 4.7Difficulty = 4.4Discovery Probability = 3.8 Success Probability = 2.0Impact = 4.7Current Defense = 2.5___________________________________________Overall Risk = 2.3

Scenario 2 - Dis or mis InformationAn attack against a primary new source with the intent to inject mis-information for public dissemination is rated a 4.1 on our risk scale.

MEASUREMENT SCORECost = 1.3Complexity = 1.6Difficulty = 2.2Discovery Probability = 2.0 Success Probability = 4.0Impact = 4.7Current Defense = 2.5___________________________________________Overall Risk = 4.1

In support of the higher risk and increased likelihood of success in this type of attack is the following account of events that took place on June 17, 2007. The viewers of a Czech television channel watching a Web cam program monitoring weather in various Czech mountain resorts saw a nuclear explosion taking place in the Krkonose or Giant Mountains in the northern Czech Republic. CNN Europe reported that members of a Czech art group were responsible and got in trouble for hacking a television broadcast and inserting the phony video of the nuclear explosion.

One can only imagine the psychological impact on the viewers that witnessed this prank. The TV channel CT2 said that they received frantic phone calls from viewers who thought a nuclear war had started. By the way, just recently the artists were acquitted of the charges stemming from the fake nuclear blast on TV.

Watch the Video of the News/Weather Cast.

In a conversation I had with a security consultant he told me: "Sure it could happen in the U.S. today. The media industry has not made the necessary security improvements since the Captain Midnight incident in the late 80s."

-- Kevin Coleman

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