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Guardian hit by suspected ransomware attack

Guardian hit by suspected ransomware attack

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The Guardian was hit by a suspected ransomware attack at its offices, prompting the media group to instruct staff to work from home this week and avoid accessing shared networks.

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of The Guardian, and managing director Anna Bateson told staff on Wednesday that they believed the “serious incident” to be “a ransomware attack” but were also considering other possibilities.

Circumstances suggest the Guardian has fallen into some sort of criminal attack, in which hackers lock down a company’s data or computer system and demand payment to unlock it. Ransom demands can come several days after the initial attack.

The newsgroup was able to continue publishing articles on its website because it has a bespoke editorial system that was largely unaffected by the attack. “Although some of our internal systems have been affected, we are confident that we will be able to publish in print tomorrow,” said Viner and Bateson.

The alleged attack has weakened the Guardian’s internal networks, crippling in-building Wi-Fi access and access to shared corporate services and financial systems.

The note to staff earlier in the day had urged staff to “please work from home today” to “minimize disruption”. “Do not come to our offices to work unless specifically asked to do so,” the note said. “Please do not use a VPN to log into any systems.”

The limited number of staff at the Guardian’s London headquarters were forced to work from laptops and use mobile phones to get online on Wednesday.

Ransomware attacks on businesses have become increasingly common in 2020 and 2021, in part because the shift to remote work has made IT systems more vulnerable to hackers.

However, according to US security firm SonicWall, the number of attacks has fallen by almost a quarter in the first half of this year, partly because more organizations have refused to pay cybercriminals.

Other possible factors include increased law enforcement and the fall in the price of cryptocurrencies, the preferred form of payment for ransoms.

The Guardian operates one of the most visited English-language news websites in the world, which had around 94 million unique visitors last month, according to Similarweb.

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