Concerned about Comcast's precautions, experts recommend that subscribers change their account passwords after last week's apparent hacker attack on MSO.

Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video

February 11, 2014

2 Min Read
Is Comcast Ready for Big Hack Attack?

How well would Comcast cope with another security invasion by computer hackers?

In a calculated attack last week, hacking group NullCrew FTS claims to have exploited a known vulnerability in at least 34 Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) servers throughout the US, potentially gaining access to subscriber payment information and account settings. Comcast said at the time that it had "no evidence to suggest any personal customer information was obtained in this incident."

Others, however, are not so sanguine about Comcast's ability to stave off security threats to its customers. In fact, at least one security expert is recommending that Comcast subscribers change their passwords to protect their accounts from cyber intruders.

"Of course, Comcast should be telling their customers to change their passwords. Even if there was just a chance of a breach, it's still best practice to change your passwords regularly," said cybersecurity analyst Jack Whitsitt. "Any company that is not yet being open with its customers about what's happening with regard to security events is doing themselves a disservice. What is also concerning is that, at least anecdotally, many people don't remember or realize they have an ISP email address and so, if someone were to use theirs, would they even realize it?"

Whitsitt was referring to the fact that all Comcast customers have a master email account, and that this account is used to manage subscriber settings and payment transactions for all cable services. After gaining access to that account, a hacker could use the master email address to share information and control of the account with other parties.

A reporter for ZDNet, Violet Blue, publicly scolded Comcast in a blog post late Sunday night for not being more aggressive in its response to last week's attack. Blue likened Comcast's response to an attempt by Snapchat to downplay its own battle with hackers just over a month ago.

In addition, Blue pointed out that NullCrew FTS, the group claiming credit for the Comcast attack, also claimed responsibility for a similar assault on BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE) two weekends ago. So this may be the start of a hacking campaign against North American broadband service providers.

A Comcast spokesperson insisted, though, that the MSO has matters under control. "We take our customers' privacy and security very seriously," he said in an email response to Light Reading late Monday. "We have aggressively investigated this incident and have found no evidence to suggest any customer information was obtained.”

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Mari Silbey

Senior Editor, Cable/Video

Mari Silbey is a senior editor covering broadband infrastructure, video delivery, smart cities and all things cable. Previously, she worked independently for nearly a decade, contributing to trade publications, authoring custom research reports and consulting for a variety of corporate and association clients. Among her storied (and sometimes dubious) achievements, Mari launched the corporate blog for Motorola's Home division way back in 2007, ran a content development program for Limelight Networks and did her best to entertain the video nerd masses as a long-time columnist for the media blog Zatz Not Funny. She is based in Washington, D.C.

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