Security analysts say a gaping security hole in Fox News Network's website revealed file directories and sensitive content, although it appears the problem has been fixed.
Several directories were visible on a server for Fox News that should normally not be accessible by a web browser over the internet.
A systems administrator may have forgotten that the directories were viewable over the internet or erroneously changed the permissions needed to view the directories, said Ronald van den Heetkamp, who runs the blog 'The Hacker Webzine'. The Fox News site runs on the Apache Web server software on Ubuntu Linux.
"This isn't a very clever idea," said van den Heetkamp. The security problem is "huge enough, and a few sensitive files have been found".
Also exposed was an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) connection to ziffdavis.com, plus a username and a password in a bash file, which is a Linux shell script used in this case to automatically log in into an FTP server and grab news headlines, van den Heetkamp said.
It would be hard to directly exploit the web server, but being able to see how the website is structured could open other ideas for an attack in the future, van den Heetkamp said.
"They will have tons of people downloading their data right now as we speak, which is bad in any case," he said.
Fox officials were not immediately available for comment.