A suspected malware attack disrupted Tribune Publishing in the last week of December 2018, preventing wide range of major newspapers from printing their weekend editions. The compromised papers are current and former Tribune properties including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, the New York Daily News, The Baltimore Sun, the San Diego Union-Tribune and various other major newspapers around the country.
The computer virus/malware causing problems got discovered on Friday after it “impacted some back-office systems that are primarily utilized to publish and produce newspapers across our properties,” Tribune publishing spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said in a statement published by the Chicago Tribune. Statement further included – “This issue has impacted the timeliness and in some cases the completeness of our printed newspapers. Our website and mobile applications, however have not been affected.”
Tribune publishing also notified the attack to the FBI on Friday, the Chicago Tribune said.
The computer virus which hits the Chicago Tribune prohibited it from printing and delivering Saturday editions of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and several other newspapers to some subscribers.
Thus the print edition of the Chicago Tribune was published Saturday without the paid death notices and classified ads. Despite this, in several other markets a similarly slimmed-down version of the Saturday newspaper got delivered on Sunday, the company reported.
The malware infection besides from all this, shuffled operations at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, shutting down newspaper production and affecting phone lines on temporary basis. This ultimately caused already confused newspaper subscribers to be incorrectly told that the numbers they were calling were actually not in service.
After the occurrence of all these incidents, “We apologize to our customers for this inconvenience,” said the L.A. Times in a statement published in an article about the computer malware. “Thank you for your patience and support as we respond to this ongoing matter.”
The Tribune publishing additionally also said, “there is no evidence that customer credit card information or personal identifiable information has been victimized.”
The company further said, “it is ‘making progress’ to resolve publishing issues, and has reported the unfortunate computer virus attack to the FBI.” The Bureau declined to comment.
Moreover, by the Saturday afternoon, Chicago Tribune suspected the cyberattack to be of ‘foreign entity’. However reported “officials said it was too soon to say whether it was carried out by a foreign state or some other entity, said a source with knowledge of the situation.”
The agency said, “The Department of Homeland Security is investigating. We are aware of reports of a potential cyber incident impacting various news outlets.” Further added, “We are working with our government and industry partners for a better understanding of the situation.”