Sara Fischer Apr 12, 2017
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When hackers target the news

Steve Bowbrick/AP

In an earlier era, if someone didn't like what was reported about them, they could write a letter to the editor or run a full-page ad combating the piece. Today, independent and state-sponsored hackers are responding to articles, journalists and news institutions they don't like online by publishing private information about them or shutting down their websites completely.

Why it matters:

  • The news is at risk: Digital news lends itself to more cyberattacks, and the rate of digital news consumption is steadily increasing. This is especially problematic when news organizations are planning stories around highly-trafficked events that hackers can predict will have a big democratic impact, like the election night or inauguration.
  • Everyday people are unknowingly involved: Hackers use an army of digital bots to perform attacks, and those bots often operate attacks from "compromised machines," or the computers of regular, everyday people. Hackers will place malware (usually from spam emails) on people's computers that allow bots to mimic their website browser settings when conducting attacks, making it harder for news organizations to see them coming.