Islamist hackers take French broadcaster TV5Monde off air

A French police officer stands guard at French television network TV5Monde.
A French police officer stands guard in front of the main entrance of French television network TV5Monde headquarters in Paris on Thursday. The French broadcaster was working to regain control over its 11 channels and websites after an "extremely powerful" cyber attack claimed by the supporters of the Islamic State, its director said. Credit: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

The attack disrupted the network's broadcasting for hours and also affected its websites and social media accounts

French-language TV network TV5Monde was hit by a crippling cyberattack Wednesday that disrupted broadcasting across its channels and also involved the hijacking of its website and social media accounts.

The attack happened at around 10 p.m. Central European Time and given its scale, probably took serious planning by the attackers -- a group that calls itself the Cyber Caliphate. The same group, which claims affiliation to extremist organization ISIS, also hijacked the Twitter accounts of Newsweek, the International Business Times and the U.S. Central Command earlier this year.

france tv cyberwarfare isis Christian Hartmann/Reuters

A print screen of the hacked Facebook page of French television network TV5Monde is seen on a camera viewer on Wednesday. 

The hackers replaced the TV5Monde logo on the network's Facebook page and posted copies of ID cards allegedly belonging to relatives of French soldiers involved in anti-ISIS operations. The hackers also wrote: "The CyberCaliphate continues its cyberjihad against the enemies of Islamic State," the BBC reported. The French government holds a majority stake in TV5Monde.

The TV network had to shut down broadcasting across its 11 channels for several hours and eventually resumed limited transmission of pre-recorded programs. Its main website currently displays only a maintenance message, while others, like TV5Monde Asia, still work but show a warning about the attack.

"This Wednesday our channel, our sites, our transmitters and our social networks were hacked by an Islamist group," TV5Monde general director Yves Bigot said in a recorded video message posted on Facebook at around 2 a.m. Paris time. "The sites are inaccessible and the television station can no longer transmit its programs for the moment. All hands are on deck. We are doing all we can to get things back to normal rapidly. Thank you for your understanding."

The French National Information Systems Security Agency, ANSSI, announced that it is helping the broadcaster analyze the attack and restore services in a secure manner.

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