Malware attack cripples newspapers across United States

A malware attack disrupted the production and delivery of newspapers across the United States over the weekend, affecting the Saturday editions of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune, among others.

Tribune Publishing detected malware on its servers on Friday, sending technology teams scrambling to contain the attack. However, it spread through the company’s network, crippling the news production and printing process for the multiple newspapers that shared Tribune’s platform.

The Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union Tribune, which Tribune formerly owned, experienced distribution delays for their Saturday editions. The two newspapers were sold to Los Angeles biotech entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong last June, but they still share several systems, including software.

The Los Angeles Times said that most of its subscribers were still able to receive their Saturday newspapers, though they were late by several hours. Meanwhile, for the San Diego Union Tribune, 85 percent to 90 percent of its Saturday edition was not delivered to subscribers on Saturday morning.

The distribution of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal were also delayed in Southern California, as they are printed at the Los Angeles Times’ printing plant. The Baltimore Sun, meanwhile, released its Saturday edition without the usual comics and puzzles.

The malware attack did not compromise the credit card information or other personal data of customers, according to Tribune CEO Justin Dearborn.

The purpose of the malware attack remains unclear, though a source familiar with the situation revealed that it appears that the intention was to disable servers, not to steal data, the Los Angeles Times reported. The malware attack may have come from outside the United States, according to the same source, without detailing the evidence that resulted in the allegation.

The threat of malware remains constant. Last month, a study by cybersecurity researchers discovered that Russian hackers are targeting email accounts in the United States and Europe with a new kind of phishing malware. Earlier in December, a report suggested that over 415,000 routers around the world may be affected by malware to enable cryptojacking, which is a scheme where hackers steal the computing power of connected PCs to mine for cryptocurrency.

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