Cyber attack on Washington radio websites

wtop_127_01The Web sites of Washington radio stations WTOP (All News) and sister station Federal News Radio (aimed at federal government employees) have been hacked, potentially infecting the computers of people who visited their Web sites.

A statement posted on WTOP’s Web site said that users who visited its page using Internet Explorer browser may have been affected by the attack. The statement said that visitors using other browsers, including Safari or Firefox, were not affected.

WTOP and Federal News radio did not say how many people were affected or when the hack was detected.

Eddie Mitchell, a security engineer at security company Invincea, said hacks like this one are particularly difficult to detect. Other attacks that might attempt to lure users to fraudulent Web sites can be easily avoided with common security software. But by targeting a site that people trust and visit habitually, he said, hackers have a better chance of getting through those filters.

According to Mitchell, the attacks on WTOP and Federal News Radio Web sites installed two types of malware. The first is a fake antivirus software, which identifies false threats and collects users’ credit card information when they try to “subscribe” to a program to clean their computers.

The second is a type of software that connects users’ computers to a larger network that hackers can control and use to increase the number of “clicks” on digital advertisements that make them money.

WTOP and Federal News radio did not comment on Mitchell’s assessment.