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The Guardian newspaper believes "IT incident" caused by ransomware

It's the second case of a major Western media organisation being targeted by a cyber attack this year

UK newspaper the Guardian has confirmed that it believes it has suffered a ransomware attack causing disruption to the business.

A spokesperson for the publisher said “there has been a serious incident which has affected our IT network and systems in the last 24 hours,” in a statement to IT Pro.

The incident was first detected on late Tuesday evening, with some of its internal systems and behind-the-scenes services affected. Staff have been ordered to work from home.

Editorial output persists across its website globally and the company is “confident” that its print issue will still reach newsstands on Thursday morning. 

It remains unclear which ransomware group has launched the attack on the publisher. Cyber security expert Graham Cluley indicated that Guardian staff have also been told to avoid connecting to the publisher’s virtual private network (VPN).

The newspaper’s spokesperson said it will keep staff and any other who may be affected informed on the progress of the incident. 

Asked about estimated recovery times, the Guardian’s spokesperson did not respond.

Ransomware attacks are typically financially motivated and have steadily increased in volume every year since the method became popular following the WannaCry incident in 2017.

However, cyber attacks on news organisations in recent times have been more focused on sending a political statement rather than for the purposes of extorting targets financially.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has seen distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks surge in both regions. They have been directed at a variety of targets such as government agencies, as well as media organisations.

Hacktivist group Anonymous famously claimed to hijack a number of Russian broadcast networks earlier this year in a bid to highlight state-controlled media failing to cover Russia’s true intentions with its invasion of Ukraine.

The March 2022 attacks saw the white hat hackers briefly control news feeds, displaying footage of Ukrainian warzones.

News Corp was also targeted by alleged Chinese state-sponsored hackers in February for the purposes of espionage and data theft.

The umbrella company houses high-profile publishers such as The Times, The Sun, and The Wall Street Journal.

Cyber security company Mandiant investigated the incident on behalf of New Corp and concluded that a persistent attack on one of its cloud systems saw the theft of data to benefit China’s interests.

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