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KHQ-TV, KFBB suffer cyber attack affecting news operation

A Washington state television station was hit with a crippling cyber attack that had effects on other stations within the company.

Station executives with Spokane NBC affiliate KHQ-TV (Channel 6) told the Spokesman State Review the cyber attack happened early Monday morning before the station’s 4:30 a.m. news broadcast.

The cyber attack locked station employees out of software used to provide graphics and other technical support for the station’s newscast.

KHQ-TV produces news elements, including graphics, for broadcasts at other stations in Washington and nearby Montana. In a statement posted online, Great Falls ABC/Fox affiliate KFBB-TV (Channel 5) said it was working with a “cybersecurity firm to restore access” to its systems but offered no timeline on when its computers would be restored to normal.

Neither station said exactly what occurred, but descriptions provided to the newspaper and posted online suggested a “ransomeware” attack where a virus infects a computer network, then limits the network’s ability to function until a ransom is paid to an attacker, usually via Bitcoin.

Both stations said they are airing newsrooms with scaled-back resources, including paper scripts, limited graphics and less video than usual.

No employee or viewer information was compromised through the cyber attack, a KHQ-TV official said, adding that the FBI had been notified about the incident.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).