Cyber attack leaves several Cox Media stations unable to broadcast

(Logo courtesy Cox Media Group, Graphic by The Desk)

A crippling cyberattack disrupted broadcast systems used by dozens of television and radio stations owned by Cox Media Group on Thursday, according to three sources with knowledge of the incident.

The incident took the form of a ransomware attack that disabled key computer systems used by some of Cox Media Group’s broadcast properties. The company owns 57 radio and television stations across the country.

The attack disrupted broadcast operations at Cox’s flagship television station WSB-TV (Channel 2), the ABC affiliate in Atlanta, and prevented the station from airing its regular afternoon newscast, one source said.

Other television stations affected by the attack included Pittsburgh NBC affiliate WPXI (Channel 11), Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV (Channel 9) and Tulsa Fox affiliate KOKI-TV (Channel 23).

The attack also initially prevented Cox’s radio and television stations from streaming broadcasts online. As of Thursday afternoon, some Cox television stations were able to resume their online streams, but the company’s radio stations remained inaccessible.

The incident impacted viewers of some cable, satellite and streaming television services who complained that they were unable to watch normal programming via certain Cox stations. Streaming service Hulu temporarily replaced WSB-TV’s broadcast feed with a simulcast of ABC News Live until the feed was restored; in a tweet, the service acknowledged a disruption on WSB-TV’s end was to blame for the issue.

Websites, social media pages and some non-broadcast internal systems were not affected by the attack, according to sources who spoke with The Desk on condition of anonymity. Some systems have been taken offline in an attempt to curb the spread of the ransomware, which is believed to have originated by e-mail, one source said.

Officials at Cox Media Group have not provided a formal response to the incident.

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