Ouest-France, the leading French daily by its circulation, will publish only one edition of its Sunday newspaper, against ten usually. The reason? A computer attack. The newspaper indicates to have been the victim of a virus “rather formidable” in the night of Friday to Saturday.
The virus hit the computer system of the regional daily based in Rennes, Saturday shortly after 3:30 a.m., when the last paper edition had just been printed.
“This harmful virus has not impacted Saturday’s newspaper or our website,” said François-Xavier Lefranc, editor-in-chief of Ouest-France. However, the group has had to shut down its computer servers and must ensure that they have been disinfected before restarting them.
“The diagnosis is in progress”
“To guarantee the publication of the newspaper, we have limited the number of editions. The newspaper will be distributed everywhere but in a single edition, ”explained François-Xavier Lefranc.
The Sunday newspaper, dubbed Dimanche Ouest-France (DOF), which sold nearly 400,000 copies last Sunday, will only be published in one edition this week. Usually, a departmental edition is distributed in each Breton department and in the Pays de la Loire as well as a regional edition for Normandy.
According to François-Xavier Lefranc, the virus is “powerful, quite formidable and which spreads very quickly” but did not give details on its origin. “The diagnosis is underway,” he said, adding that there was “no question of ransom”. “We hope to be able to go out normally on Monday,” added the editor.
A ransomware attack at Paris Normandie
The Paris-Normandy daily was the victim on Wednesday of a cyberattack which prevented it from updating its website and disrupted its paper editions on Thursday. Two journalists from the daily who requested anonymity said there had been a demand for ransom.
Ransomware allows cybercriminals to encrypt their business files, successfully crippling all or part of their business. The hackers then demand a ransom to decrypt the files.
More and more companies are falling victim to this scourge, but rarely the media. In France, M 6 has already been affected by a ransomware attack that severely disrupted its activities for a few days, in mid-October 2019.