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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

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.