Hijacked Radio: Hackers Play Anti-Trump Songs

With the new administration, politicizing businesses has become the new normal. Trump supporters have promised to #BoycottStarbucks and anti-Trump protesters have already begun to #BoycottUber. As a small business owner working to expand your operations, taking a political stance could harm or bolster your business, leading you to assume neutrality. If customers can't figure out where you stand politically then you risk far less chance of offending anyone on either end of the spectrum.

But, as has been well-documented in the media, consumers are demanding business transparency. Some consumers are going so far as to hack industries to assert their own message, as in the case of four U.S. radio stations.

If you don't want your business to become a cyber target, get cyber liability coverage, it could make the difference between succeeding or failing at your business.

Lax Cybersecurity Make Easy Pickings

On a cold January Monday evening in Salem, South Carolina, radio listeners tuned in to Sunny 107.9 WFBS-FM on the drive home from work were taken from their usual oldies but goodies set to a new looped playlist featuring YG and Nipsey Hussle's anti-Trump rap hit FDT or F* Donald Trump. Realizing their station had been hacked and playing an explicit anti-Trump song, station president Frank Patterson posted a statement to the radio station's Facebook page exclaiming "Our internet has been HACKED at our transmitter site, and the station has played anti-Trump songs. We at WFBS do not take political views!" All effected stations (including 100.9 Louisville, Kentucky, 103.5 Evansville, Indiana, 101.9 Seattle, Washington and 96.7 Murfreesboro, Tennessee) have filed complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address the cyber breach.

Posts apologizing for the overt nature of the song and its negative message about the current president hit social media pages fast. Radio station managers wanted to assure their listeners that their preferred radio stations do not take political stances. By citing that they had been hacked, these radio stations did what they could to remove all blame from themselves. However, had the radio stations followed proper cybersecurity procedures, the hacks could have been prevented.

Hackers were able to infiltrate radio station air waves through unsecure interconnected antennas. According to Wired Magazine, hackers targeted a well-known bug found in the Barix Exstreamer audio devices the radio stations were using. "The vulnerability occurs when a certain model of Internet-connected transmitter doesn't have a strong password restricting access and isn't behind a firewall or VPN."

Told of the bug as early as 2016, the affected radio stations did not address the issue, leaving them susceptible to the inauguration day hacks.

This hack could have caused sponsors to pull their advertisements and listeners to turn the dial. This hack politicized a-political radio stations, and it didn't take a lot of effort to do it.

It's for reasons like this that as a business owner you must stay vigilant about your company's cybersecurity. If you're hacked, cyber liability coverage will cover the damages, allowing you time to rebuild your empire. Get a free cyber liability insurance quote when you visit CyberPolicy.

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