Guardian shuts down offices after ransomware attack

Staff at the Guardian were locked up in the newspaper’s offices and forced to work from home after the company was hit by a suspected cyberattack.

Employees were told there was a serious incident at the media group’s King’s Cross headquarters this morning that affected network connectivity, but no reason was given for the shutdown.

A spokesperson for the newspaper said, “There has been a serious incident affecting our information network and systems in the last 24 hours. We believe this was a ransomware attack, but we continue to evaluate all possibilities.”

Most of the company’s internal systems are still working, and journalists can publish news online and access their e-mail as usual.

However, senior editors were still unaware of the nature of this morning’s outage.

The spokesperson added: “We continue to publish globally on our website and apps, and although some of our internal systems have been affected, we are confident we can publish them in print tomorrow.

“Our tech teams are working to deal with all aspects of this event as the vast majority of our staff are able to work from home as we did during the pandemic.

“We will continue to keep our staff and others affected.”

The attack will come as a blow to the newspaper amid growing concerns about cybersecurity.

Earlier this year, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was the victim of a cyberattack in which hackers gained access to journalists’ emails and documents.

The breach, which affected The Times and The Sun in the UK, and The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post, is believed to have been committed by China.

The Guardian has been in its offices in King’s Place since 2008. Since the pandemic, many staff have adopted a flexible working policy.

But as advertising revenue and fan growth slows and costs soar, the media outlet is now grappling with a darkening outlook.

Anna Bateson, CEO of Guardian Media Group (GMG), announced in an email to staff earlier this month that hiring “everything but what’s necessary” in departments other than editorial is frozen. Editorial recruitment will continue to require high-level approval.

The newspaper also cut back on discretionary spending, such as travel and expenses.

Bateson, who took over as general manager three months ago, has plans to focus on the international expansion of the title in the next year. She also aims to expand the company’s backer strategy to support revenues, she says.

But the media mogul, who also founded an online hair dye brand, faces a management controversy linked to the group’s complex corporate structure.

Anders Jensen, head of Scandinavian streaming service Viaplay, stepped down from the Guardian board in September to protest the process leading up to the appointment of the CEO.

Mr Jensen and other senior staff are said to be dissatisfied with the level of influence enjoyed by editor Katharine Viner, who pushed GMG to appoint Ms Bateson.

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