Sinclair Broadcast Group, a Hunt Valley, Maryland-based company which operates dozens of TV stations across the U.S., said Monday that some of its servers and work stations were encrypted with ransomware. The full ramifications are not yet known. The unidentified hackers also stole data from Sinclair’s network; the company said it was working to determine what information was taken. The disturbance impeded the production of local newscasts throughout the day on Sunday and again on Monday. The company owns or operates 21 regional sports network and owns, operates or provides services to 185 television stations in 86 markets. Its computers and video servers were down. The data breach has caused, and may continue to cause, disruption to parts of its business, including aspects of local advertisements by local broadcast stations.
Other media outlets have been hit by ransomware attacks in recent years. Ransomware payments reached more than $400 million globally in 2020 and topped $81 million in the first quarter of 2021, according to the U.S. government. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jenn Easterly called the ransomware problem an “epidemic” that will require international help and cooperation. It is not known who is behind the cyberattack or whether Sinclair Broadcast Group paid the ransom. Sinclair shares declined about 3.3% in afternoon trading. No ransomware groups immediately took credit for the incident.