On Sunday afternoon, some of the world's worst lowlifes decided to hack the Sesame Street YouTube channel and replace some of the videos with pornographic clips. In the channel description, the criminals left their names, though the YouTube users matching those names have since denied having anything to do with the hack.
In fact, there's speculation this might be what's known as a revenge hack, where a hacker gives credit for a crime to his enemy to damage their reputation.
The adult clips stayed up for several minutes, before the Sesame Street channel itself was taken offline completely. As of this writing, the channel is still down. Any attempts to access that page results in what you see in the screenshot below:
So what does it all mean? Several things:
1. YouTube Channels, like most online accounts, are still easily hackable.
All one needs is the right username and password. As far as the hacker world is concerned, Sesame Street's channel isn't any more secure or special than yours or mine.
This could be a fantastic time to revisit your channel password and make sure it's something more complicated than "password" or "12345."
2. The Internet is full of evil people.
The person or persons responsible for this hack is either the worst kind of evil, or is a 12-year-old. Because no one else would be so stupid and sick as to defile a page frequented by children with adult images and video. Anybody that might have thought "hack a YouTube channel with pornography" sounded funny as a concept would still be disgusted to find out the channel was Sesame Street's.
Make no mistake: these guys are going to go to jail, even if they're only 12-year-olds. PBS is beloved and paid for by the viewers, most of whom won't shrug this off. And the parents of any kids who were exposed to the offensive content will see this through to the end. You thought they went after Evan Emory for his editing tricks? Wait and see how they are with this incident.
3. This is not a reason to avoid using YouTube for business, though some shortsighted people will use it to draw that conclusion.
Any video hosting solution is going to have a username/password combination, whether you go "hosted" or "posted," you'll have a login somewhere. And that will always be hackable. This incident isn't any kind of indictment of YouTube's security. It is, however, a sad commentary on our culture, which will apparently never be rid of the .01% who consistently choose selfishness, trolling, and anarchy.
YouTube is no doubt looking into this and working to restore the Sesame Street channel. I'm sure they'll also be cooperating with law enforcement officials as well, if they haven't already. Hopefully this can be nothing but a blip on the radar of Sesame Street's involvement in online video. After all, the show has really embraced the format and the YouTube marketplace; it would be a shame to see them get gunshy after this incident.
Hopefully, though, it'll be the opposite. In fact, when you consider how quickly the channel was shut down after the offending videos surfaced, you could make an argument that YouTube should be applauded for acting so swiftly.