Monday, 18 July 2011 14:55

SBS ceases unintentional malware broadcasting service


With Australia's multicultural 'Special Broadcasting Service' or SBS TV network the latest major company to see its site attacked by hackers and modified to deliver malware, the loudly ringing security wake-up call ratchets up a few decibles more.

It might be the golden age of smartphones, tablets and computing in general, but it's also the golden age of cybercrime, where malicious hackers not only have fun at others' expense, but have long ago progressed to making serious money from cyber criminal endeavours.

The latest major organisation to be hit is Australia's Special Broadcasting Service, SBS, which was set up in 1980 to broadcast multicultural television programming into the homes of Australians, although the broadcaster says it has now solved the problem alongside apologising to anyone that was affected.

Hackers managed to infiltrate SBS's website and insert code which could re-direct users to a third-party 'malware site', which would have presumably led some Windows users to become infected, depending on the status of their Internet security programs and the status of updates to the version of the Windows OS in question and other third-party software, leading Google's Chrome browser to issue a warning over proceeding to the site.

SBS has issued a statement today
which explains that the last two days has seen the SBS site becoming victim to a 'hacking attack'.

The statement notes that: 'This is the first time that the SBS site has suffered any sort of attack, however unfortunately, this is a common occurrence for many websites and organisations around the world.

'While SBS has comprehensive safety measures in place across the site, this source has been able to enter the site on this occasion and has inserted a link to a third party 'malware site'.

'Users who may have inadvertently visited this third party malware site could then have had their machines infected with a virus depending on their security settings. SBS recommends that any site users who may be concerned about infection run a full security scan.'

SBS offers its apology to any of its users affected by a virus, and says that its 'digital team' (presumably the IT department) has been 'working throughout the weekend to rectify the problem and have now resolved the problem', with SBS noting that 'investigations are ongoing regarding how this issue occurred and what steps can be taken to ensure it does not happen again.'

SBS promises to keep us all updated, while the episode is yet another volume riser to the on-going air-raid klaxon that warns us all to take our 'digital' security as seriously as we do our 'offline security'.

Is your OS, whatever flavour it is, up to date with the latest updates, patches and security fixes? Are you running the latest versions of Adobe's Flash Player and PDF readers? Is your Office software up to date?

Are you running Internet security, anti-virus and even malware scanning and defence software, such as MalwareBytes and TrustDefender, and is that software updating itself on a regular basis?

Are you running the latest version of your browser and all its plugins? Do you have your system fully backed up?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, chances are you're running an insecure system that is open to malware/virus/Trojan/rootkit attack, and it's only a matter of time before the files on your hard drive are open not only to yourself, but to cyber criminals who care not one whit about you and your problems, but only about your money and how to get their hands on it.

The attack vectors are many, with SBS just the latest victim. Protect yourself and make sure you're not next!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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