Several Newspapers Hit By Foreign Cyberattack, Affecting Distribution

Newspapers that are part of the Tribune Publishing group were hit by an apparent cyberattack this week, which affected printing and distribution of their editions over the weekend.

The Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and more publications were affected by the malware breach, according to reporting from the L.A. Times.

The breach affected the process by which newspapers in this publishing group were printed, creating long delays on data that is shared between the publications and their printing presses. As a result, other publications were also hurt by the cyberattack, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, whose West Coast printing processes rely in part on using the same printing facility as the L.A. Times.

It was unclear from which country the cyberattack originated from, but an anonymous source with a deep understanding of the attack confirmed that it was not from within the United States. That source also stated on the record that the attack seemed to target newspapers in order to disrupt their printing processes, and was not intended to try and get anyone’s personal information, subscriber or otherwise.

“We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,” the source explained.

Tribune Publishing spokeswoman Marisa Kollias confirmed the source’s statement.

“There is no evidence that customer credit card information or personally identifiable information has been compromised,” Kollias said, per reporting from CNBC.

An official statement from the company itself further elaborated that the breach didn’t affect customers.

“The personal data of our subscribers, online users, and advertising clients has not been compromised,” Tribune Publishing wrote in its official statement.

The cyberattack affected Saturday distribution of many of the Tribune Publishing group’s papers. Most of the San Diego Union-Tribune subscribers did not receive a paper at all on that day, for example.

At issue was how the software systems of Tribune Publishing publications interacted with the printing process. News stories, photographs, and other relevant information that would ordinarily transmit electronically to the printing press was disrupted, which in turn delayed the process by which that data would be turned into plates from which the papers could be printed.

The U.S. government stated that it was aware of the situation involving the cyberattack, and investigating the matter further.

“We are aware of reports of a potential cyber incident affecting several news outlets, and are working with our government and industry partners to better understand the situation,” a spokeswoman with the Department of Homeland Security said.