October 17, 2011

Sesame Street Back on YouTube after X-Rated Hacking

“Brought to you by the letters XXX” is not exactly what parents have in mind when they think of Sesame Street, but a couple of wily hackers turned their sunny day YouTube (News - Alert) channel into a not-so-sunny place.  

It appears that X-rated videos replaced the usual fun Sesame Street videos, but were online for less than an hour. There were no viewer complaints.

According to the AP, Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente said "We have great hopes that it was found out" before young viewers could see the X-rated material.

Back online Monday afternoon, a statement on the page read: "We apologize for any inconvenience our audience may have experienced yesterday on our Sesame Street YouTube channel. Our channel was temporarily compromised, but we have since restored our original line-up of the best classic Sesame Street video clips featuring Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, and the rest of the fuzzy, feathered and googly-eyed friends you remember from childhood."

Do to the nature of YouTube and, clearly its ability to be hacked, a statement also says “If you're watching videos with your preschooler and would like to do so in a safe, child-friendly environment, please join us at http://www.sesamestreet.org.”

Precisely how Sesame Street's YouTube channel was hacked is a mystery, explained Graham Cluely, Sophos senior technology consultant.

PBS, which is home to the show Sesame Street, is no stranger to hacks.

LulzSec, a hacker group, has claimed credit for cracking PBS’s website back in May of this year and leaking its login credentials after an episode of its Frontline show–titled “WikiSecrets”–that put a critical spotlight on WikiLeaks and the suspected source of its troves of classified documents, Bradley Manning.

“We just finished watching WikiSecrets and were less than impressed. We decided to sail our Lulz Boat over to the PBS servers for further… perusing,” read a statement that LulzSec posted to Twitter (News - Alert). “Anyway, say hello to the insides of the PBS servers, folks. They best watch where they’re sailing next time.”

Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Rich Steeves