The Philadelphia Inquirer daily newspaper is working on restoring systems impacted by what was described as a cyberattack that hit its network over the weekend.
The attack also disrupted operations, with newspaper circulation halting while Inquirer.com is only slightly affected, with publishing and updating stories being impacted by intermittent delays.
“The incident was the greatest publication disruption to Pennsylvania’s largest news organization since the blizzard of Jan. 7-8, 1996, and it came just days before Tuesday’s mayoral primary election,” the Inquirer’s Jonathan Lai said.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work to fully restore systems and complete this investigation as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for Inquirer publisher Lisa Hughes said.
“We will keep our employees and readers informed as we learn more.”
The news organization detected the attack after the content management system went down on Saturday morning, days after it was alerted of “anomalous activity” by Cynet Systems, a cybersecurity company that manages the Inquirer’s network security.
After the incident was detected, the Inquirer’s publisher said the newspaper had taken down some computer systems due to “anomalous activity.”
The regular Sunday edition couldn’t be printed following the attack and was only released online as an e-edition.
While the Monday editions were expected to get printed and distributed to subscribers, some classified ads will get delayed “out of an abundance of caution.”
Newspaper to notify potentially affected subscribers
The Inquirer also notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation and hired the services of Kroll to investigate and respond to the cyber incident.
Hughes couldn’t provide information regarding who the attackers were and if they gained access to customers’ or employees’ sensitive information but said that the newspaper would notify those who might have had their data impacted in the incident.
The Philadelphia Inquirer is now reaching a growing audience of over 13 million people monthly through its newspaper, website, and other platforms, almost 200 years after it was first published in 1829.
News Corporation, a mass media and publishing giant that owns New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, MarketWatch, Fox News, Barron’s, The Sun, and the News UK, also disclosed in February 2023 that Chinese-linked attackers had access to its network between February 2020 and January 2022.
The threat actors had access to an email and document storage system used by several News Corp businesses, which gave them access to business documents and emails containing sensitive data, including employees’ personal information.
In 2022, a compromised video content and advertising provider was used to push malware through the websites of hundreds of newspapers across the U.S., while dozens of U.S. news sites were hacked by the Evil Corp gang to infect Fortune 500 firms’ employees with malware.