PressReader service partially returns after cyberattack impacts 7,000+ publications

One newspaper urged customers to stop calling about the issue.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

PressReader, a digital platform for hundreds of print newspapers and magazines, said its systems are slowly returning to normal after a cyberattack caused outages since last Thursday. 

The app provides access to more than 7,000 publications from newspapers, libraries and museums across the world. It first announced the outages on March 3 and later confirmed it was because of a cybersecurity incident. 

In posts on Facebook and Twitter last night, the company said its content processing system is now fully back to normal and all publications sent to the platform since March 6 have been published. 

But a number of publications remain delayed, even after PressReader received the files from publishers. 

"We are actively reaching out to publishers to receive and process these publications as soon as possible. Missing issues between March 3rd and March 5th will be processed in the coming days. Magazine content since March 3rd will resume processing from 9am PST, Monday March 7th," the company said. 

"While we are still investigating the full-scope of the incident, what we can share is that the PressReader team has been working around the clock to ensure that we stand alongside our partners in our commitment to the free press and the distribution of quality journalism."

The company added on Sunday that its teams in Vancouver and the Philippines have been working around the clock to bring service back. 

This past weekend, the company said it was prioritizing titles from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East as it scaled its systems back to full capacity. 

The day before that, PressReader said its security teams were able to determine that the outage was caused by a cybersecurity incident. The company did not respond for requests for comment about whether it was a ransomware attack. 

But in its initial statement, PressReader claimed the attack was part of a larger trend of companies across North America experiencing "security incidents" over the last few weeks. 

They said there was no evidence that customer data was compromised in their first public message, but they did not include that line in subsequent statements. 

Users flooded both the Twitter and Facebook posts to complain about the loss of access to their favorite publications. Hundreds of newspapers released personal messages to readers explaining the outages. 

Many newspapers -- especially those that rely on the platform as their only avenue for publishing daily electronic versions of their daily newspaper -- shared PressReader's statement verbatim. One newspaper said its call center was "experiencing high call volumes and long wait times because of this outage." They urged customers to stop calling and wait for messages from the newspaper directly.  

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