Possible Cyberattack Disrupts The Philadelphia Inquirer

A possible cyberattack on the Philadelphia Inquirer has disrupted its printing operations over the weekend and forced it to close its newsroom until at least Tuesday. At that time, the staff will cover the expensive and fierce mayoral primaries.

The Inquirer’s publisher and chief executive, Elizabeth H. Hughes, said the paper found “unusual activity on some computer systems” on Thursday and “immediately took those systems offline. ‘ said.

But the Inquirer could not print a regular Sunday edition. newspaper reported. Instead, print subscribers received an “initial edition” on Sunday, which was printed on Friday night.newspaper too reported on Sunday The company’s ability to post and update articles on its website,, “may be slower than usual,” it said.

Monday’s print edition of the Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, which also publishes the Inquirer, went on schedule, according to company spokesman Evan Benn.

But because access to Inquirer’s Internet servers has been disrupted, employees won’t be allowed to work in the newsroom until at least Tuesday, Hughes told employees Sunday night. said in an email to This email was shared with The New York Times.

Hughes said the company is looking for a co-working space for Tuesday. The Inquirer will be covering the closely contested Democratic primary, which is all but certain to decide the next mayor of Pennsylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia, and will be opening up co-working spaces for the presidential election. said he was looking for swing state.

“Other than we can’t be together in the formal newsroom, I don’t think it will have any impact,” said the Greater Philadelphia Newspaper Union, the union representing the Philadelphia Newspaper Union. editor Diane Mastral, president of . Inquirer reporters, photographers and other staff. “The coronavirus has certainly pushed us to work remotely.”

On Monday, he said the paper’s content management system, which staff use to write and edit stories, “is operating with ongoing workarounds.”

“I don’t like to use the word ‘normal’,” Mastral said.

Hughes said the Inquirer notified the FBI and “has put in place an alternative process to allow for the publication of the print version.”

Hughes said the newspaper is also working with corporate research firm Kroll to restore systems and investigate the incident.

The Inquirer, in a news story about an “obvious cyberattack,” said it was the most serious disruption to newspaper publishing since January 1996 due to a massive snowstorm. Philadelphia got 30 inches of snow.

The paper reported that Hughes, citing an ongoing investigation, said that who was behind it, whether the Inquirer or its employees were likely targeted specifically, and whether there was confidential information about employees and subscribers. and declined to answer detailed questions about the episode. It may have been compromised.

Company spokesman Benn said in an email on Monday: “As the investigation is ongoing, we are unable to provide additional information at this time. If we learn that personal data has been affected, we will notify and assist anyone who may have been affected.” .

Special Agent E. Edward Conway of the FBI field office in Philadelphia said the FBI is aware of the issue, but that it is the agency’s practice not to comment on specific cyber incidents. “However, when the FBI learns of a potential cyberattack, we typically offer assistance on such matters,” Conway said in an email.

Mastral, who worked as a weekend editor, said his staff found it impossible to log on to the content management system on Saturdays.

They were given a workaround, she said, but staff were covering Taylor Swift’s concert at Lincoln Financial Field and the final weekend of campaign events before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference. In the process, he said, “very difficult working conditions” were created. Semifinals, Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers.

Ms Mastral said employees were “a little concerned about the lack of adequate protection for this matter and were very frustrated by the lack of specificity in the company’s communications.”

In 2018, the Los Angeles Times announced that a cyberattack disrupted the printing operations of the company and newspapers in San Diego and Florida. Anonymous sources cited by the Los Angeles Times said the paper was hit by ransomware — a malicious attack that scrambles computer programs and files and then demands victims pay a ransom to unscramble them. suggests that it is possible.

As reported by The Guardian, Hit by a ransomware attack in December The incident exposed the personal data of a British employee. The Guardian reported that the attack forced the company to close its offices for several months.

In an email to Inquirer staff Sunday evening, Ms Mastrulu summarized the day’s news and paid tribute to those who interviewed her “despite the fact that the publishing system has practically ceased to function.” bottom.

“Now all that’s left is to find a co-working space so I can cover the really important election on Tuesday,” she wrote. “You can’t hold us back!”

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