Cyberattack hits major USA newspapers and affects distribution

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A malware attack that appears to have originated outside the USA delayed the hardcopy distribution of several major newspapers, according to a report.

A suspected malware computer virus from outside the United States prevented the Los Angeles Times from publishing many of its Saturday print editions, in an attack that similarly crippled other newspapers across the country, the Times said.

The computer virus caused problems for newspapers connected to Tribune Publishing, the company confirmed this weekend, compromising software crucial to the news production and printing process. When some L.A. Times readers called to inquire about their print edition, the customer service phone lines were on the fritz.

Kollias said no personal data of subscribers, online users or advertising clients was compromised as a result of the interference, and news and all regular features are available online.

On its Twitter account, Tribune Publishing Company acknowledged the issues, empathizing with customers affected.

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The print editions of the Chicago Tribune, Lake County News-Sun, Post-Tribune, Hartford Courant, Baltimore Sun, Capital Gazette, and Carroll County Times were published Saturday without paid death notices and classified ads, according to the Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant, and Baltimore Sun. The Orlando Sentinel subscribers received their papers on time, according to a Tribune Publishing executive.

The West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, which are printed on the shared production platform, were hit as well, the Los Angeles Times said.

Tribune Publishing spokeswoman Marisa Kollias confirmed this in a statement, saying the virus hurt back-office systems used to publish and produce "newspapers across our properties".

"Usually when someone tries to disrupt a significant digital resource like a newspaper, you're looking at an experienced and sophisticated hacker", said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit public interest research group.

Newspaper administrators reported the problem to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday, the U-T said.