News


Pleasanton Weekly website back online after cyber attack

Hacker's message used language associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous

The five online news sites of Embarcadero Media Group, including PleasantonWeekly.com, were hacked Thursday night at about 10:30 p.m. but are now back online.

The sites, which provide online content for the Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com in the East Bay, and Palo Alto Weekly, The Almanac and Mountain View Voice in the Mid-Peninsula and the Pleasanton Weekly in the East Bay, were attacked by someone who used an image of Guy Fawkes, the icon of the activist group Anonymous.

Embarcadero Media took down the websites - PleasantonWeekly.com and DanvilleSanRamon.com, PaloAltoOnline.com, MV-Voice.com and Almanacnews.com - while working to restore them.

There is no indication that the email addresses and passwords of readers who are registered users of the company's websites were hacked, but the perpetrator did have access to those data files, which could have been taken, according to Embarcadero President and CEO Bill Johnson. He advised readers who are registered users to change their passwords and, if they use the same password on other sites, to change all of them.

The company does not store any credit card information on its computer systems, so that data is not at risk, he said.

The hacker posted a message that indicated disgruntlement with The Almanac, which covers Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside: "Greetings, this site has been hacked. Embarcadero Media Group (Alamanac) (sic) has failed to remove content that has been harmful to the wellbeing and safety of others. Failure to honor all requests to remove content will lead to the permanent shutdown of all Embarcadero Media Group websites."

As part of the hack, each website's URL was replaced with the text "Unbalanced journalism for profit at the cost of human right. Brought to you by the Almanac." The message concluded with a partial tagline used by Anonymous: "We do not forgive, we do not forget, we are legion."

However, according to Forbes Magazine journalist Parmy Olson, who has written extensively about the group, one of the collective's rules is not attacking the media. In addition, no specific objection to an article or posted information was provided by the hacker.

The FBI and officers from the Palo Alto and Mountain View police departments are investigating the attack, Johnson said.

He called the incident a "sophisticated and elaborate attack aimed at inflicting extensive damage."

"Fortunately, numerous back-ups and safeguards, and a quick response by our IT team, were able to prevent even more serious harm to the company's operations," he said.

While the websites were down, the newspaper staffs published on Facebook, Twitter and Issuu.com. All the websites were restored from back-ups that are routinely made, and no content is expected to have been lost.

Embarcadero Media Group is headquartered at 450 Cambridge Ave., Palo Alto. The private, independent media company publishes The Almanac, which covers Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley; the Mountain View Voice, which covers the city of Mountain View; the Palo Alto Weekly, which covers Palo Alto and East Palo Alto; and the Pleasanton Weekly, which covers Pleasanton. In addition to weekly print editions, it also operates websites, including DanvilleSanRamon.com, and produces daily emailed news editions, Express.

— Pleasanton Weekly staff

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Mitch
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2015 at 11:21 am

I guess there is a punishment for being hack journalists...


14 people like this
Posted by The Dogfather
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2015 at 7:48 am

The Dogfather is a registered user.

Cushing here -- registered sometime back under the TDF moniker.

You're right, of course, Mitch -- somehow the Pulitzers eluded us aGAIN this year. There's just no place in the world for a community paper that aims to inform and perhaps provoke a conversation on a local or wider topic.

And yet, your anonymous self just keeps coming around -- kicking dirt on our grave, without ever having to identify yourself with your actions, offer any added value, or even constructive critique. Why? What does that get you? A fleeting feeling of superiority, perhaps? I guess everybody wants somebody to disparage, but is the PW really your best target? What does that say about your alternatives?

Sheesh.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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