Attack behind news app outage


PressReader, the technology partner of the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, recently said that a system failure that halted its operation around the world was the result of a ransomware attack.

Canadian company PressReader reported a service outage on March 2. The company said it found suspicious activity and took all sites and apps, as well as PressReader, offline for 24 hours as a defensive measure while it investigates.

The network outage affected many sites and apps, including the Democrat-Gazette’s mobile and iPad apps.

PressReader said it restored some services for some customers as of March 3. Subscriber access to Democrat-Gazette products via PressReader was fully restored on Sunday, March 6.

“We can now confirm that the network issues we encountered were caused by a ransomware attack,” PressReader wrote in a letter to Jay Horton, president of digital at WEHCO Media, the company that owns the two newspapers.

In its letter, PressReader said that as part of its response to the attack, the company is working with cybersecurity experts in its investigation, assessment and remediation efforts. The company said there was no indication that customer information had been compromised or that partner systems or applications were at risk.

In response to emailed questions this week, a PressReader spokesperson declined to say whether the company knew the source or motive of the ransomware attack, or provide further details, citing an investigation. In progress.

On February 25, PressReader posted on Twitter: “In order to help Ukrainians access up-to-date information, we are opening up all PressReader content in the country for free to individuals. PressReader will absorb the cost paid to publishers until as further notice.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

PressReader offers thousands of local, regional and international newspapers and magazines online, on mobile devices and in print, including publications like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle, according to the company. The outage was global and affected the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

A ransomware attack earlier this month that targeted one of Toyota Motor Corp.’s parts suppliers. forced the automaker to close 14 factories in Japan for a day, disrupting the completion of around 13,000 vehicles.

There have been no reports on who was behind the attack, or if there was a motive other than a ransom. The attack came just after Japan agreed to join its Western allies in announcing economic sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. It was unclear if the attack was related.

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