Malware attack disrupts distribution of leading U.S. newspapers

Distribution of newspapers from leading U.S. media organisations such as The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Baltimore Sun were disrupted on Saturday after a malware attack struck a printing plant used by the affected publications.

The malware attack resulted in a server outage at the Los Angeles Times’ Olympic printing plant in downtown Los Angeles and delayed deliveries of the most popular newspapers on Saturday morning. According to The Los Angeles Times, the malware spread through Tribune Publishing’s IT network and affected systems that were supporting news production and printing process.

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Malware attack aimed at disrupting operations

"We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information," said a source to LA Times who also reported that computer experts at Tribune Publishing believe that the malware attack may have originated outside of the United States.

Sources at Tribune Publishing also told LA Times that the malware attack was possibly a "Ryuk" ransomware attack and that computer files corrupted because of the malware attack contained the extension “.ryk.”.

Following its disclosure of the malware attack, Tribune Publishing said that "the personal data of our subscribers, online users, and advertising clients has not been compromised. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank our readers and advertising partners for their patience as we investigate the situation."

While the malware attack affected distributions of The LA Times as well as the West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, it also affected distributions of smaller media organisations such as the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News, Hartford Courant, and South Florida Sun Sentinel.

A spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security said that the department is aware of "reports of a potential cyber incident effecting several news outlets", adding that it is working with government and industry partners to learn more about the situation.

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