News Report Technology
December 11, 2023

Cyberattack Disrupts TV Services Across UAE, AI Anchor Broadcasts Graphic Content from Gaza

In Brief

UAE residents faced a cyber-attack on set-top boxes, replacing regular content with videos showing Israeli atrocities in Palestine.

Cyber Attack Disrupts TV Services Across UAE, AI Anchor Shows Graphic Content from Gaza

UAE residents grappled with an unforeseen disruption to their television programs on Sunday night, as a cyber-attack specifically targeted set-top boxes, replacing regular content with information regarding Israeli atrocities in Palestine.

Subscribers of the affected service reported an abrupt shift on European live channels, accompanied by a message declaring, “We have no choice but to hack to deliver this message to you,” as reported by Khaleej Times, UAE’s English newspaper.

A Dubai resident, utilizing the popular HK1RBOXX streaming device, shared his unsettling experience:

“I was watching BBC News around 10:30 pm when the program was abruptly disrupted. Instead, harrowing visuals from Palestine appeared on my screen. I watched transfixed as my screen froze, and a message from the hacker popped up in all caps against a green background. This was immediately followed by a news bulletin presented by an AI anchor. It was surreal and scary.”

Following the initial disruption, screens transitioned to an AI news anchor presenting a bulletin on the plight of Palestinian children and women in Israeli prisons, accompanied by distressing visuals. As of now on Monday, the hacking issue remains unresolved.

In response to desperate messages from concerned subscribers, the set-top box provider issued an apology, acknowledging that their systems had been hacked. They assured subscribers that they were actively investigating the problem.

The extent of illegal decoder and pirate satellite dish usage in the UAE is unclear. However, broadcast piracy poses a significant financial impact on the industry, potentially costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Evident Surge in Cyberattacks as Conflicts Unfold

This is not the first incident, ever since the Israel-Palestine war started, several cyberattack incidents have been reported. Earlier this year in October, Killnet, a group purportedly consisting of patriotic Russian volunteer hackers, declared its intention to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on all Israeli government systems.

This cyber-attack method floods websites with traffic, rendering them offline. The group cited its blame on Israel for ongoing bloodshed and accused the country of supporting Ukraine and NATO. Subsequently, Killnet claimed responsibility for successfully taking down an Israeli government website and temporarily disrupting the website of the security agency Shin Bet.

Similarly, last month an Iran-linked hacking group successfully infiltrated a water facility located northwest of Pittsburgh. Although the breach did not compromise water safety within the United States, it serves as a stark illustration of the potential impact cyberattacks can have, bringing the consequences of a conflict on distant continents dangerously close.

In a recently published report, Microsoft disclosed a surge in activity from the Gaza-based threat group known as Storm-1133. The group has reportedly directed its efforts towards Israeli organizations operating in the defense, energy, and telecommunications sectors during the early months of 2023.

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About The Author

Kumar is an experienced Tech Journalist with a specialization in the dynamic intersections of AI/ML, marketing technology, and emerging fields such as crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. With over 3 years of experience in the industry, Kumar has established a proven track record in crafting compelling narratives, conducting insightful interviews, and delivering comprehensive insights. Kumar's expertise lies in producing high-impact content, including articles, reports, and research publications for prominent industry platforms. With a unique skill set that combines technical knowledge and storytelling, Kumar excels at communicating complex technological concepts to diverse audiences in a clear and engaging manner.

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Kumar Gandharv
Kumar Gandharv

Kumar is an experienced Tech Journalist with a specialization in the dynamic intersections of AI/ML, marketing technology, and emerging fields such as crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. With over 3 years of experience in the industry, Kumar has established a proven track record in crafting compelling narratives, conducting insightful interviews, and delivering comprehensive insights. Kumar's expertise lies in producing high-impact content, including articles, reports, and research publications for prominent industry platforms. With a unique skill set that combines technical knowledge and storytelling, Kumar excels at communicating complex technological concepts to diverse audiences in a clear and engaging manner.

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