ZNS hacked; over $18,000 in bitcoin demanded

Smith does not believe the “attack” was political

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas was completely shut out of its internal systems yesterday afternoon after hackers, believed to be overseas, infiltrated the corporation’s servers and demanded it hand over between $18,000 and $20,000 in the cryptocurrency, bitcoin.

Speaking to Eyewitness News Online around 8:00 p.m., BCB Executive Chairman Mike Smith said ZNS still had not regained control of its systems.

“We were attacked,” explained Smith, who said authorities were brought in to investigate the incident.

“I was informed by our information technology people that none of the servers could be accessed.

“Somebody had taken them over; encrypted them so we could not access them and they were demanding a ransom.

“At that point, they tried to see how much control they had over them, and they pretty much had control over everything.

“Everything is computerized these days, so that obviously affected our administration and also our technical areas.”

Smith was asked if there was any consideration to pay the demand.

He said, “We have been advised not to.”

ZNS aired its national newscast at 7:00 p.m. However, Smith said even equipment such as the teleprompter, which broadcasters use to read the news, was impacted.

He was unable to say whether ZNS would be able deliver its usual services today.

“We have contacted the police and got them involved,” Smith advised.

“They are working with international partners, law enforcement partners and trying to find out exactly what is going on because at this point, we don’t have access to all of the computerized equipment that you would normally use for broadcasting or telecasting.”

He added, “They are going to have to rebuild the server and the whole works.”

Asked whether the hacker or hackers identified by a particular name, Smith said there was only the demand and a set of instructions for the money to be paid in bitcoin in exchange for a password.

It was pointed out that a hack of the government institution constitutes an attack on government.

Smith said he does not believe the hack of the government institution was political.

He said, “I don’t think it’s political. I think it’s some greedy people across the world trying to make some money.”

He noted that executive management was in meetings for the better part of the afternoon yesterday and a review of all of its internal systems and security protocols will be reviewed.

“The thing is a broadcast system has so much exposure because you get everything online just about,” Smith said.

It was unclear whether the hackers were able to obtain any sensitive information, including employee records for example.

“We’re still accessing that,” Smith said.

“We will inform the data protection commissioner.

“At this point we are just trying to decide and determine how much exposure we have.

“It affects significantly our broadcasting and telecasting operations, very significantly.”