Origin of virus that hobbled newspapers still unclear

Jermaine Castillo
December 31, 2018

"We have made significant progress and are proud of our team across the organization that put Sunday's delivery of newspapers back on an ordinary schedule through incredible and extraordinary effort", Tribune Publishing spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said in a statement Sunday.

San Diego Union-Tribune Publisher Jeff Light described the incident as "what now seems to have been a malicious attack on the company by computer hackers" in a message posted to the newspaper's website.

"We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information", the LA Times quoted a source with knowledge of the situation as saying.

Director of distribution Joe Robidoux said he expects the majority of Los Angeles Times subscribers would receive their paper on Saturday, but delivery would be late.

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The Saturday edition of the Chicago Tribune was published without paid death notices and classified ads, according to the newspaper.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said it was studying the situation.

The Los Angeles Times claims this cyberattack came from somewhere outside the United States.

While newspapers are often looked at as an antiquated news deliver system and ancient means of entertainment, there are still many subscribers across the US who look forward to getting the latest edition every day.

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Mark Weatherford, a former DHS deputy under secretary for cybersecurity who is now chief cybersecurity strategist at California-based vArmour, said Sunday that phishing links are the most common way such attacks gain entry.

It said the ransomware is tailored to each victim, only infects "crucial assets and resources" in targeted organisations, and infection and distribution is "carried out manually" by attackers. He added, however, that it was too early to draw conclusions.

The attack didn't compromise any subscribers, internet users or advertisers, Tribune said.

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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