Guardian closes offices after ransomware attack

Staff at the Guardian have been sacked from the paper’s offices and forced to work from home after the company was hit by a suspected cyberattack.

Staff have been informed of a serious incident affecting network connectivity at the media group’s King’s Cross headquarters this morning.

A spokesperson for the newspaper said: “There has been a serious incident affecting our IT network and systems over the past 24 hours. We believe this is a ransomware attack but we continue to look into all possibilities.”

Many of the company’s internal systems are still working and journalists can post stories online and access email as normal.

However, the senior editors were still aware of the nature of the power outage this morning.

The spokesperson added: “We are continuing to publish globally to our website and apps, and although some of our internal systems have been affected, we are confident we will be able to publish in print tomorrow.

“Our technology teams are working to deal with all aspects of this incident, with the vast majority of our employees able to work from home as we have done during the pandemic.

“We will continue to keep our staff and anyone else affected informed.”

The attack would be a blow to the newspaper amid growing concerns about cyber security.

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

The breach, which affected UK headlines The Times and The Sun as well as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post, is believed to have been carried out by China.

The Guardian has been based in Kings Place since 2008. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, many staff have adopted a flexible working policy.

But the media organization is now grappling with a bleak outlook as advertising revenue and sponsor growth slow while costs soar.

In an email to staff earlier this month, Anna Bateson, chief executive of Guardian Media Group (GMG), announced a hiring freeze on “non-essential” appointments in non-editorial departments. The editorial appointment will continue to require approval by senior officials.

The newspaper also reduced discretionary spending such as travel and expenses.

Batson, who took over as CEO three months ago, has laid out plans to focus on the title’s international expansion next year. It also aims to expand the company’s supportive strategy in an effort to support revenue.

But the media chief, who was previously CEO of an online hair dye brand, is facing a management row linked to the conglomerate’s complex corporate structure.

Anders Jensen, head of the Scandinavian streaming service Viaplay, resigned from the Guardian board in September in protest at the process that led to the CEO’s appointment.

Jensen and other senior staff are said to be unhappy with the level of influence wielded by editor Katherine Viner, who pushed GMG to hire Ms Batson.

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