In an SEC filing, the company disclosed that it had identified a “potential security incident” over the weekend. The company discovered that “certain servers and workstations” in its environment were encrypted with ransomware. Some office and operational networks were disrupted, and data was also stolen from the company’s network.
Sinclair said it is “working to determine what information the data contained and will take other actions as appropriate based on its review.” Law enforcement and other government agencies have been notified, it added.
The attack disrupted many parts of the company’s business, including its lucrative local advertising operation. The company said it “cannot determine at this time whether or not such event will have a material impact on its business, operations or financial results.”
Shares in Sinclair sagged 4% to $26.16. The company will report its third-quarter financial results on November 3.
Sinclair operates 185 stations in 86 markets, a portfolio eclipsed only by that of Nexstar Media Group. It also runs 21 regional sports networks, the Tennis Channel and ad-supported streaming offerings including Stadium and STIRR.
Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common, hitting a range of institutions and companies. Last spring, the Colonial Pipeline was hit, creating temporary gas shortages, with authorities blaming a group of Russian hackers. Media companies have not been immune to the spreading threat, with Cox Media Group and the Weather Channel among those suffering attacks in recent years. U.S. government experts estimate that ransomware payments totaled $400 billion in 2020.