BOSTON - A hacker secretly took over a computer server at the BBC, Britain's public broadcaster, and then launched a Christmas Day campaign to convince other cyber criminals to pay him for access to the system.
While it is not known if the hacker found any buyers, the BBC's security team responded to the issue on Saturday and believes it has secured the site, according to a person familiar with the cleanup effort.
A BBC spokesman declined to discuss the incident. "We do not comment on security issues," he said.
Reuters could not determine whether the hackers stole data or caused any damage in the attack, which compromised a server that manages an obscure password-protected website.
It was not clear how the BBC, the world's oldest and largest broadcaster, uses that site, ftp.bbc.co.uk, though ftp systems are typically used to manage the transfer of large data files over the Internet.
The attack was first identified by Hold Security LLC, a cybersecurity firm in Milwaukee that monitors underground cyber-crime forums in search of stolen information.
The firm's researchers observed a notorious Russian hacker known by the monikers "HASH" and "Rev0lver," attempting to sell access to the BBC server on December 25, the company's founder and chief information security officer, Alex Holden, told Reuters.
"HASH" sought to convince high-profile hackers that he had infiltrated the site by showing them files that could only be accessed by somebody who really controlled it, Holden said.
So far Hold Security researchers have found no evidence the conversations led to a deal or that data was stolen from the BBC, Holden said.