MEDIA

NBC Fighting Claims That Richard Engel's Hacking Story Was 'Fabricated'

NBC is fighting back against claims that reporter Richard Engel's hacking story from Sochi was a fraud.

On Tuesday night, Engel told NBC News' Brian Williams that his computers and cellphone were hacked "almost immediately" upon arriving in Sochi, Russia, to cover the Olympic games. He detailed how in just one minute, hijackers invaded his two computers, probing for information. But cybersecurity expert Robert Graham investigated Engel's report Thursday and claimed in a blog post that "the story was fabricated":

1. They aren't in Sochi, but in Moscow, 1,007 miles away.

2. The "hack" happens because of the websites they visit (Olympic themed websites), not their physical location. The results would've been the same in America.

3. The phone didn't "get" hacked; Richard Engel initiated the download of a hostile Android app onto his phone.

An NBC spokesperson responded to multiple media outlets on Thursday and Friday, stating that Graham's points "on the blog are completely without merit."

From CNet:

The NBC rep also noted that the report made it clear from the beginning that the taping was done in Moscow. The report was intended to demonstrate that a person was more likely to be targeted by hackers while conducting searches in Russia, the representative added, acknowledging that these attacks can happen anywhere in the world. In addition, the story was designed to show how less technically savvy people can fall victim to such a cyberattack.

Despite the allegations, Engel appeared on MSNBC Thursday night with Rachel Maddow to go into more detail on exactly how his devices were "hijacked." He admitted to Maddow that he did click on both a suspicious email and a pop-up window which led to the hackings. Watch the video below for more of Engel's story:

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