Ransomware attack halts circulation of newspapers in Germany

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Ransomware attack on ‘Heilbronn Stimme’, the German newspaper, has halted the distribution of newspapers, including a 28-page epaper since Friday last week. Although the company tried to manage things by printing the missed-out edition via an emergency 6-page news theme, it did not publish any sensitive news as the blocks were already filled with obituaries and classifieds that were to be printed in the edition to be published on October 14th,2022.

As the communication and phone lines were down, ‘Heilbronn Stimme’ staff was urged to opt for work from home. Temporary email ids were assigned to some staff members and were asked to use WhatsApp platform to stay in touch with admins, other staff members and journalists.

Since the publisher’s 75,000 printing dime was halted, most of the readers visited the website for news articles, thus taking the usual count of 2 million visitors per month to little over half a million per day.

 

Reports are in that publishing subsidiaries such as Pressedruck, Echo and RegioMail were also affected by the file encrypting malware and the business loss stands beyond estimation for now.

Because Germany is supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia, the suspicion finger on who is behind the attack is currently pointing towards Moscow.

Law enforcement agencies from Baden-Wurttemberg, in coordination with some forensic experts from a cybersecurity firm, are busy investigating the incident.

It remains unclear on whether the publishing firm will pay a ransom to free up its database/s from encryption. However, the publishing of emergency editions is taking place at a 3rd party media firm based in Karlsruhe.

 

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Naveen Goud
Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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