Democrat-Gazette app outage linked to cybersecurity incident

An outage of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s digital app was linked Friday night to a cybersecurity incident, according to the newspaper’s technology partner.

In a statement, Canada-based PressReader described it as a “cybersecurity incident that has resulted in a widespread disruption to our services, including Branded Editions and PressReader. This situation comes as businesses across North America North have seen an increase in security incidents in recent weeks.

Services offered in Arkansas by PressReader, which is also the technology partner of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and other newspapers around the world, were restored Friday afternoon. However, not all content was available, including recent digital replicas of newspapers.

The company’s statement states that on Wednesday evening, “we identified suspicious activity in our systems. As a precaution, we took all Branded Editions sites and apps, as well as PressReader, offline for 24 hours while we began an investigation. We were able to restore many of our services around 9:00 p.m. PST on Thursday, March 3. Content processing continues to be a work in progress, and we have begun reaching out in other ways to receive files from our Branded Editions partners, so that we can release editions as soon as content processing is restored.

“At this point, we continue to restore internal systems and see no evidence that branded editions data, including customer and transaction data, has been compromised.” said the statement, issued by Steve Chapman, PressReader’s senior vice president for content partnerships.

Russia invaded Ukraine last week. On February 25, about five days before the outage, PressReader posted on Twitter: “In order to help Ukrainians access up-to-date information, we are opening up all PressReader content in the country for free to individuals. PressReader will absorb the cost paid to publishers until further notice.

LOG ACCESS

To access the digital edition of the Democrat-Gazette, readers can visit arkansasonline.com/todayspaper or go to ArkansasOnline.com to read articles on the newspaper’s website. The replica is also available at ArkansasOnline.com by clicking on the “Today’s Paper” link in the upper left corner of the screen.

PressReader offers thousands of local, regional and international newspapers and magazines online, on mobile devices and in print, including publications like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle, according to the company. The outage was global and affected the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Lynn Hamilton, president of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, said in an interview Friday that PressReader’s outage was one of the most frustrating experiences of her career, noting that Democrat-Gazette’s business model relies on PressReader. to provide its product to its customers. who use iPads to view the newspaper.

He said PressReader hoped it would restore the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publishing service by today’s edition, but there were no guarantees.

Hamilton issued an apology to readers, saying he had been inundated with tens of thousands of phone calls that were overwhelming the newspaper’s ability to respond to them individually.

“We are as frustrated as our customers,” Hamilton said.

Information for this article was provided by John Magsam of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

About Donald J. Beadle

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