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Listings on the hacker forum. Photos: Sixgill

Separate hackers on a Russian-language hacker forum have offered to sell access to the content management systems of bundles of news sites since October, notes Israeli threat intelligence firm Sixgill, which would give buyers the ability to edit or upload their own news stories. One offered access to 1,425 U.S. sites.

Why it matters: "We get a sense of urgency from looking at this stuff," said Alex Karlinsky, a intelligence expert at Sixgill. "It may seem like a small thing, but in this era of political bots and trying to influence opinion, this is another way to do that."

Details: The posts appeared on a predominantly Russian-language hacker forum where hackers frequently auction access to websites of all types.

  • The U.S. site package, listed in October, started bidding at $600 with a buy-it-now option of $1,200.
  • A second listing in December offered access to a centralized administration panel for a variety of news sites. Those sites were largely Southeast Asian, with Saudi and U.S. sites mixed in. Bidding on that started at $50, with an option to outright purchase at $150.

The hackers in both cases were well-established enough on the forum that the listings appear credible, said Karlinsky.

There does not appear to be a specific spike in sales of access to news agencies, said Karlinsky. Rather, the two listings covering the same ground were a coincidence brought about by the rise in listings of pre-hacked sites overall.

Go deeper: When hackers target the news

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.