According to the Los Angeles Times report, a cyber attack halted the printing department of major newspapers in San Diego and Florida over last weekend. The halt resulted in a delay of operations and disruption in news reporting. The attacks were from outside the United States, surprisingly the attacks immediately stopped after an unofficial channel accused a specific foreign government.
This attack was directly on printing operations and quite advanced in nature. It’s not generally seen when a computer malware attacks on infrastructure and take down the operations. The attacks seem politically motivated upon reviewing the timeline of events. This opened up an entirely new channel to target international media.
The malware was targetted on the networks used by Tribune Publishing, which was the company behind the formation of The Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune. However its important to note that the two papers still use their former parent company’s printing networks.
According to a statement from LA Times, malware attack also affected the weekend distribution of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Its however a fact that NY Times and WSJ uses a large printing plant in Los Angeles for their West Coast editions. However, it’s not clear so far whether both the companies were affected by the same attack. Although the patterns of damage seem exactly the same.
Its important to note that online versions of all newspapers remain intact here as only printing operations were targetted by the said hackers.
“Every market across the company was impacted,” Marisa Kollias, a spokeswoman for Tribune Publishing, told The Los Angeles Times. The Tribune’s remaining publications include its flagship, The Chicago Tribune, and newspapers in Florida, Hartford, Connecticut, and Maryland. It also owns The Daily News in New York.
However, the Tribune statements don’t necessarily indicate a role of a foreign government in this attack. According to some of the anonymous sources cited by LA times, it could be deemed as a ransomware attack to encrypt the data so that hacker can ask for money in exchange of unlocking the attack.