A Russian hacker took over control of the computer server of British public broadcaster, BBC News and tried to sell the access to the system to other cybercriminals on Christmas Day, according to report from Reuters.

BBC News Russian Hacker

BBC News said its security team responded to the problem on Saturday. A person familiar with the cleanup effort said the British broadcaster believed that its site had been secured, but it cannot confirm whether the culprit was able to find a buyer before it was able to resolve the security breach.

Details forthcoming on break-in

The British public broadcaster did not provide any detail regarding the issue whether the hacker obtained data or caused any damage to its system during the cyberattack. “We do not comment on security issues,” said a spokesperson for BBC News.

The computer server of BBC News was reportedly attacked by the hacker through its file-transfer site ftp.bbc.co.uk, which is an obscure and password-protected site. In 2002, the news company listed a log on and password for the service on its news site to enable the pubic to upload video and audio messages during the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  Its reporters also used the server to send their own media files. Its advertisers were recently allowed to send their media files intended for the BBC Worldwide Channels using the same server.

Hold Security LLC, a U.S. based security firm first discovered that cyberattack on BBC News. The security firm’s founder and chief information officer, Alex Holden told Reuters that the hacker used the alias “Hash” and “Rev0lver” and showed files that are only accessible by administrators of the website to prove to other cybercriminals that he was able to hack BBC News.

Holden said, “The only other information that I can offer is that the hacker was offering a screenshot proving that he had administrative access to the BBC server. It was solid technically convincing evidence.”

Larger issues over security of FTP servers

On the other hand, Prof. Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey,  Department of Computing commented, “If a security hole has been identified in the underlying server and it has not been patched then the FTP [file transfer protocol] facilities can be exposed.  This could mean, for example, that files containing sensitive information could be downloaded. However, the bigger worry is that FTP servers are connected to the remainder of the network and often have easy access to other servers to facilitate internal file transfers, which is how a hacker can then use this as a jumping off point to explore other servers on the network.”

According to Holden, the researchers of Hold Security did not find any evidence that the conversations between the Russian hacker with other cybercriminals led to a deal or data from BBC News have been stolen.