Hackers are selling access to U.S. news websites, allowing buyers to tamper with news reports, according to an organization that monitors the dark web.
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In October 2018, a post appeared on a Russian-language hacker forum advertising the sale of access to content management systems for a bundle of U.S. news websites, Axios reported, citing Israeli threat intelligence firm Sixgill. Bidding started at $600 with a buy-it-now option of $1,200.
Another listing was made in December offering access to a centralized administration panel for a variety of news sites. The news sources were mostly from Southeast Asian countries, with some U.S. and Saudi sources, Axios reported. Bidding started at $50 with a buy-it-now price of $150.
Sixgill staff believe the hackers in both cases are well-established enough for the postings to be legitimate, Axios reported.
"We get a sense of urgency from looking at this stuff," said Alex Karlinsky, an 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."
There doesn’t appear to be a spike in the buying and selling of access to news websites, Karlinsky said. The two postings were a coincidence brought about by the rise in listings of pre-hacked sites overall, he said.