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Broadcasters on High Alert for Cyber Attacks

Michigan broadcasters are reminded to be vigilant

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is placing American broadcasters on the front line of cybersecurity warfare, according to a communiqué from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

The state broadcast group emailed its members Wednesday about possible looming cybersecurity threats. “The MAB advises all Michigan broadcasters to assume they remain a high-profile target subject to cyber attacks,” the notification from MAB said.

The United States government earlier this week again issued warnings to all American companies about potential threats tied to the current political climate with Russia. It cited intelligence that shows Russia is exploring options for potential cyberattacks targeting U.S. critical infrastructure, according to MAB.

“In recent weeks, Russian state-run media has been hacked multiple times. There’s no reason the reverse couldn’t happen here,” MAB noted in the email sent by Dan Kelly, director of technical services. “Even without this warning, many broadcasters both large and small have been plagued by cybercriminal issues over the past year.”

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The U.S. government recommends eight key steps that all businesses should take immediately to protect themselves from any pressing cyber threat, according to MAB. The group shared the following tips, advising all broadcasters to give them careful review to reduce cyber vulnerabilities:

  • Mandate the use of multi-factor authentication for all computer/system logins to make it harder for attackers to get onto your system.
  • Deploy modern security tools on your computers and devices to continuously look for and mitigate threats (virus software, security updates).
  • Check with your cybersecurity professionals to make sure that your systems are patched and protected against all known vulnerabilities, and change passwords across your networks so that previously stolen credentials are useless to malicious actors.
  • Back up your data and ensure you have offline backups beyond the reach of malicious actors.
  • Run exercises and drill your emergency plans so that you are prepared to respond quickly to minimize the impact of any attack. MAB notes this is especially important for broadcasters in the case of an on-air signal getting hacked.
  • Encrypt your data so it cannot be used if it is stolen.
  • Educate your employees to common tactics that attackers will use over email or through websites, and encourage them to report if their computers or phones have shown unusual behavior, such as unusual crashes or operating very slowly.
  • Engage proactively with your local FBI field office or CISA Regional Office to establish relationships in advance of any cyber incidents. Please encourage your IT and Security leadership to visit the websites of the FBI and CISA where they will find technical information and other useful resources.

The National Association of Broadcasters also has various cybersecurity resources available online for radio and television broadcasters.