Norway’s second-largest media firm couldn’t publish any of its 80 local newspapers around the country on Wednesday, after hackers attacked their systems and then made extortion demands. Online editions were publishing as normal.
“This is a classic virus attack for ransom … something we won’t go into dialogue about,” Pål Nedregotten, director of data and technology for Amedia, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday. He said the company was working on getting back-up systems in place to produce the newspapers, after hackers disrupted their publishing, advertising and subscription systems.
The hackers are also believed to have gained access to subscribers’ names, addresses and telephone numbers but not their passwords for online editions or payment details. Systems handling credit- or debit card payments were not affected.
Newspapers affected include Drammens Tidende, Avisa Nordland, Nordlys in Tromsø, Bergensavisen, Fredriksstad Blad, Sandefjords Blad, Oppland Arbeiderbladet and Haugesunds Avis along with scores of papers in smaller communities. Police charges have been filed and the national editors’ association Redaktørforeningen reacted strongly to what may be another attack on the free press.
It’s the latest hacker attack in December, a month when national security authorities have warned of such criminal activity during holiday periods. Both the hotel chain Nordic Choice and the national farmers’ meat cooperative Nortura have been attacked as well, while other companies were boosting security around their systems.