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Dead-tree fake news purveyors hit by weekend hack attack

Written By | Dec 31, 2018
hack attack vs dead-tree fake news

WASHINGTON.  This past Saturday, computer systems responsible for processing the dead-tree fake news editions of numerous newspapers were hit by a crippling hack attack of unknown origin. The Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Annapolis Capital Gazette, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, New York Daily News, and the west coast editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal all experienced long delays in printing and distribution due to this latest cyber attack on an American business.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un meets a fiery end in the film “The Interview.” Screen capture.

It was reminiscent of the cyber-attack that rocked Hollywood in November of 2014. That bit of nastiness was inspired by the impending release of the film “The Interview,” a comedy which happened to depict the fiery death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

But more on that later.

Dead-tree fake news publications: Were they hit by a hack attack, malware or a virus?

According to the Los Angeles Times, the malware attack “originated from outside the United States.”

A report from Business Insider indicated that the company controlling most newspapers affected by this latest hack attack on American businesses might have been victims of a virus.

“Tribune Publishing spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said the virus hurt back-office systems used to publish and produce ‘newspapers across our properties.’

“‘There is no evidence that customer credit card information or personally identifiable information has been compromised,’ Kollias said in a statement.

“The Wall Street Journal and New York Times did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Most San Diego Union-Tribune subscribers were without a newspaper on Saturday as the virus infected the company’s business systems and hobbled its ability to publish, the paper’s editor and publisher Jeff Light wrote on its website.”

The Feds look into latest business hack attack by foreign criminals based outside the US
Business Insider said the Federal government was also looking into the hack attack on American dead-tree fake news purveyors.

“A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said it was studying the situation.

“‘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,’ said DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman in a statement.”

A little dictator attacks Hollywood: A bit of useful history

Suspected North Korean hacker Park Jin-hyok. CBS News screen capture.

You may recall how foreign hackers – later suspected to be North Korean – purloined the sensitive emails of Sony Pictures Entertainment executives in reaction to a Seth Rogen comedy film they didn’t like. During that hack attack, the cyber-criminals  threatened to post those Sony executive emails online if “The Interview” – a film satirizing North Korea’s President and his minions – was released in theaters as scheduled.

Poster for the 2014 film “The Interview,” staring Seth Rogen (left) and James Franco. Image: Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace,” the hackers also threatened 9/11-style hack attacks against theaters showing the film. Foreign censors hit Hollywood. Who knew? And Hollywood still thinks that the world’s only remaining fascist currently lives in the White House.

Explosive SONY emails surface in Norkie hack attack

Producer Scott Rudin (left) with Sony’s Motion Picture Group chairwoman Amy Pascal in happier days. Image: Wochit Entertainment, YouTube.

As it turned out, the only explosions detonated in La-La Land by the Norkie hack attack were the various reactions to the release of the stolen emails. Like the exchange between Sony’s Motion Picture Group chairwoman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin. Rudin was horrified to learn that actress Angelina Jolie had a film about Cleopatra then in development.

“I’m not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat,” wrote Rudin. “She’s a camp event and a celebrity and that’s all and the last thing anybody needs is to make a giant bomb with her that any fool could see coming.”

The pair also made racially charged remarks regarding the possible movie viewing proclivities of President Barack Obama. So much for Hollywood’s universal adoration of the now-former President.

In another exchange between Pascal and Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper, the latter described comedian Kevin Hart as a “whore” for demanding additional cash to promote a film on social media.

Oh, and in another email exchange, Pascal described Leonardo DiCaprio as “despicable.”

Show me the money

Responding to a lawsuit, Sony paid $8 million to its current and former employees for the invasion of privacy. The amount also covered legal fees they may have incurred due to the computer breach caused by the hack attack.

The egos of many a Hollywood “talent” suffered a severe bruising. That resulted in the sidelining of careers for a few Sony executives. Like Amy Pascal.

What do the hackers know?

Getting back to computer the cyber-attacks on America’s dying dead-tree fake news media, what else did these digital foreign agitators pilfer? Like the North Korean hackers before them, did they find interesting and embarrassing emails showing the communications between and among those nefarious barons and minions of fake news, pre-internet style?

Inquiring minds want to know.


Top Images: Abandoned L.A. Times news racks. Photo: Johndhackensacker3d via Wikipedia.


Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.