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Malware hobbles Union-Tribune; may have come from 'foreign entity'


Last updated 12/31/2018 at 7:49am

SAN DIEGO - Publication of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other U.S. newspapers was hampered Saturday by a suspected malware computer virus attack from outside the United States, resulting in missed deliveries and other issues, problems that could persist today in some areas, said officials at the Los Angeles Times, which prints the U-T.

Spokeswoman Hillary Manning told reporters Times' crews are working to fix the issues, but said deliveries today may still be affected in some areas. The papers' websites and mobile applications were not affected, officials said.

The virus caused production problems at the California Times printing plant in Los Angeles, where the San Diego Union-Tribune, as well as the Los Angeles Times and several other newspapers are printed, U-T editor and publisher Jeff Light wrote Saturday morning.

According to Light, the virus impacted computer systems of Tribune Publishing Co. that are still shared by the U-T and the Los Angeles Times, which were purchased by Los Angeles billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong in June but haven't yet transitioned from the old systems.

"We apologize to our customers for this inconvenience,'' Light wrote. "Thank you for your patience and support as we address the infection. We are working to restore full service and to continue to make our journalism available to you both in print and digitally.''

The attack apparently began late Thursday and had spread to critical systems by Friday, Light wrote. Teams from both companies were making progress against the virus, but weren't able to fix it before the newspapers went to print.

U-T print subscribers should receive their Saturday papers with today's edition, he wrote.

The Times downtown facility also prints the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other newspapers plus the West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Homeland Security, said the cyber attack is under review.

"We are aware of reports of a potential cyber incident affecting several news outlets, and are working with our government and industry partners to better understand the situation,'' she said in a statement.

A spokeswoman at the FBI's Los Angeles field office would neither confirm nor deny that their agency is investigating the apparent attack.

The Times reported in its online edition at 4:55 p.m. that the cyber attack "appears to have originated from outside the United States.''

The San Diego Union-Tribune was unable to make Saturday delivery of its print addition, and distribution of the Southern California editions of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times were affected as well.

The Times said the company "is investigating whether the computer problems were the result of a cyber attack by a third party.''


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