Jihadist cyber-attack on French TV began in January: sources

14th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

The jihadist cyber-attack against French television channel TV5Monde last week was set in motion in January, several sources with knowledge of the investigation said on Tuesday.

Self-proclaimed Islamic State militants took control of TV5Monde's Facebook and Twitter accounts and their website during the night of April 8-9, the sources told AFP.

The hackers posted jihadist propaganda messages, and jammed the station's computer system, forcing the channel to broadcast pre-recorded programmes for several hours.

The attack began at the end of January when a "phishing" email was sent to all journalists at the channel, the sources said.

Three journalists responded, allowing the hackers to infiltrate the system using "Trojan horse" malware.

In March, three weeks before the attack, a second phase of the offensive was launched and a virus contaminated several TV5Monde computers, one source said.

Then on April 9, the channel's servers were attacked for several hours before the social networks were targeted.

The attack was both simple in the way it was activated, using "phishing" techniques, and sophisticated in its use of complicated software, said another source.

It was a result "as always, of an initial human error", the source added.

So far investigators have been unable to figure out where the attack originated or how many hackers were behind it, another source told AFP.

In the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, hackers claiming to be Islamists hijacked hundreds of French websites, flooding them with jihadist propaganda, but those were low level cyber-attacks.

The TV5Monde attack, however, "was massive" and "demonstrated exceptional technical skills," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said last week.

The television channel is a Paris-based company whose programmes are broadcast in more than 200 countries worldwide.

© 2015 AFP

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