Hacked TV5Monde Passwords Appear In Television Interview


In a ‘blunder’ resulting from the chaos caused by last week’s cyberattack, passwords for YouTube and other social media accounts appeared on air

TV5Monde, the French television network taken offline by hackers last week, admitted committing a “blunder” after usernames and passwords were revealed during a live television interview in the wake of the attack.

“We are not hiding the fact that this is a blunder,” TV5Monde director general Yves Bigot told AFP, while emphasising that the password exposure was a result of the attack, and not a cause of it.

cyber security

The network was taken offline on Wednesday night when hackers breached its internal systems and took over its website and social media accounts, which were used to display messages in support of Islamic State and critical of French actions against it. TV5Monde was able to resume normal broadcasting only late on Thursday.

As the network struggled to regain control of its systems, on Thursday afternoon, France 2 – part of the state-operated France Télévision group – broadcast a report on the issue in which it interviewed TV5Monde journalist David Delos. Behind Delos, note papers attached to a pane of glass listed usernames and passwords for social media accounts including Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Most of the passwords were not clearly distinguishable, but a French media analysis website called Arrêt sur Images said the username and password for YouTube was readable.

Images broadcast on BFMTV, another French network, seemed to show additional passwords on papers attached to computer monitors.

Systems offline

TV5Monde explained that the information was distributed via hand-written notes due to the effects of the cyberattack.

“As we no longer had an antenna, nor any internal messaging or email…we were obliged to display these access codes on the walls as a temporary and transitory measure so that the journalists who needed them to broadcast via the web could do so rapidly,” explained Hélène Zemmour, TV5Monde’s director of digital, to AFP.

The network has not yet commented on how the attackers could have carried out the damaging attack.

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