Cyber Attack on UAE TV Services Disrupts Broadcasts with Messages on Gaza

A recent cyber attack targeted television set-top boxes in the UAE, causing an abrupt interruption to regular programming and replacing it with content highlighting Israeli atrocities in Palestine.

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Unsettling Messages on European Live Channels

Subscribers to the affected service encountered an unexpected shift on European live channels, where regular content was replaced with a message stating, "We have no choice but to hack to deliver this message to you." The screens then transitioned to an AI news anchor presenting a bulletin on the challenges faced by Palestinian children and women in Israeli prisons, accompanied by distressing visuals.

Viewer Experiences

Residents shared their experiences of the cyberattack. A Dubai resident using the HK1RBOXX streaming device described watching BBC News when the disruption occurred, revealing distressing visuals from Palestine and a hacker's message. Another European viewer reported a strange noise preceding a hacking message during a quiz show, leading to graphic content about atrocities in Palestine being displayed on the screen.

Unresolved Issue and Apologies from the Service Provider

As of the article's publication, the hacking issue remained unresolved. The set-top box provider issued an apology, confirming the hack and assuring subscribers that they were actively investigating the problem.

Insights from a Cybersecurity Expert

Obaidullah Kazmi, founder and CTO of the Dubai-based cybersecurity company Credo, explained that the illicit IPTV network's streaming servers had likely been compromised. Due to the insecure nature of unauthorized services lacking robust security measures, both the service and its users face heightened risks, Kazmi warned.

Broadcast Piracy Impact in the UAE

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. Licensed retailers in the UAE's electronic equipment market for premium content may be losing up to 40 percent of their business due to the widespread prevalence of illegal decoders and satellite dishes.

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