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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 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months — CDC says schools should still universally require masks and physical distancing.
  2. Politics: New York to lift mask mandate for vaccinated people — CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift.
  3. Vaccines: Sanofi, GSK COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials — Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects — 600,000 kids between 12 and 15 have received Pfizer dose since FDA authorization.
  4. Business: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance — Delta to require all new employees be vaccinated — Target, CVS and other stores ease mask requirements after CDC guidance.
  5. World: World's largest vaccine maker expects to resume exports by end of 2021 — Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Prosecutor: Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was "justified"

Khalil Ferebee (C), the son of Andrew Brown Jr., and attorneys Bakari Sellers (L) and Harry Daniel (R) at a May 11 news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday that the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies last month, was "tragic" but "justified," due to the immediate threat officers believed Brown posed.

Why it matters: The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death. Police in Elizabeth City shot him five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys last month.

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.