By Richard Arneson
This past Saturday, December 29th, while you were trying to figure out which of the forty-one (41) bowl games you should tune in to, a cyberattack hit the Los Angeles Times and a number of Tribune-owned newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun. Readers hoping to sit down with a steaming Cup of Joe and the sports section were soon disappointed when their paper didn’t arrive. The attack crippled the distribution of newspapers that utilize the same production platform.
An unnamed source states that the attack appears to have originated outside the U.S., but any additional information supporting those findings haven’t been disclosed.
The malware was initially detected the day before by the Tribune-owned Orlando Sentinel, but doesn’t appear to have affected any credit card or personal information of their, or any of the other papers’, subscribers. Only back-office systems were disrupted, and none of the newspapers’ websites were affected. It appears that the attack wasn’t launched to steal data, just take over servers and ruin readers’ Saturday morning.
The attack crippled some newspapers more than others. The San Diego Union Tribune appears to have taken the biggest hit; almost ninety percent (90%) of their Saturday editions didn’t get delivered.
Included in the attack was the New York Daily News and the West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking into the event, but neither they, nor the FBI, have issued any comments related to the attack.
Insult to Injury
Newspaper-attacking malware seems especially vicious considering what’s happened to the industry over the past twenty (20) years. At one (1) time, there were few media jobs that carried more cachet than that of a newspaper reporter. Just ask Woodward and Bernstein. The Internet has changed all of that, of course. To make matters worse, newspapers were slow to re-invent themselves in the digital age. According to a report from the Pew Research Center released six (6) months ago, employment in newsrooms has fallen by twenty-three percent (23%) in the past nine (9) years. And the largest newsrooms hit were in the newspaper industry.
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