News


Almanac 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 AlmanacNews.com, were hacked Thursday night at about 10:30 p.m. but are now back online.

The sites, which provide online content for the Palo Alto Weekly, The Almanac and Mountain View Voice on the Midpeninsula 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 –PaloAltoOnline.com, mv-voice.com, almanacnews.com, pleasantonweekly.com and danvillesanramon.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 perpetrators 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 this text: "Unbalanced journalism for profit at the cost of human right. Brought to you by the Almanac."

The message concluded with language 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, Mr. Johnson said.

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

"Fortunately, numerous backups 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 backups that are routinely made, and no content is expected to have been lost.

Embarcadero Media Group is headquartered at 450 Cambridge Ave. in 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. The PaloAlto app for iPhone and Android phones can be accessed through iTunes and the Google Play Store.

— By Embarcadero Media staff

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm

First off: Glad to see the site is back up.

Is there anything yet from the authorities investigating this attack as to the possible location of the hacker(s) involved (Bay Area, North America, elsewhere)?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 18, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Glad to see you're back up. Some folks have a problem with freedom of speach.


2 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 18, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Ditto on Menlo Voter.

I guess stories about ice cream and burgers at FF are considered harmful to our well being, though I do believe someone mentioned that they carry vegi-burgers.

In any case welcome back.


2 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm

@whatever: It *must* have been someone who hated Foster's Freeze.

It *had* to be.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm

Sorry to hear about your HACK, did Hacker give any clues as to who he/she was referring to when talking about the Almanac "has failed to remove content that has been harmful to the wellbeing and safety of others."

As the Almanac is aware that I personally filed a criminal complaint with the A.G. of State of California, San Mateo County District Attorney,SMC Sheriff's Office and DMV of California.

The complaint was somebody Hacked the DMV Computer and placed San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez's CDL number on an existing ticket. That is a Felony

Glad you are back up and running


2 people like this
Posted by Mark De Paula
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm

I am hoping the Almanac and the other 4 online news will disclose what issue / story that was the target.

Editor's note: We do not know which issue or story or Town Square comment -- if any -- triggered the attack. The attackers did not specify.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark De Paula
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2015 at 1:44 am

Editor--Thanks for the update.


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

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