The NZZ is still the victim of a cyber attack. This has consequences for the printed edition and the e-paper. An expert classifies why the media company continues to suffer from the attack.
The NZZ will partially shut down its newspaper production over Easter. Thus, the core business is affected. This indicates that the NZZ still has room for improvement in the area of cyber security, says Marc Ruef, cyber security expert at SCIP, an information security company: “Since the matter has been going on for a long time and affects the core business that makes money, that’s it not an ideal signal.”
From the outside, however, it is difficult to assess whether the NZZ had invested too little in cyber security, says Ruef. “It’s possible that they did a lot of things right.” There is no such thing as 100% security against cyber attacks. “You can be unlucky, it’s enough if one person was inattentive for a moment – and you have the salad.”
Doesn’t the NZZ want to be blackmailed?
When asked, the NZZ writes that over the past two years it has prepared intensively for the most likely cyber attacks and has also trained its employees. In a communiqué in its Wednesday edition, the NZZ also announced that it was in the process of repairing the damage. The Zurich canton police and the National Center for Cyber Security are involved.
The NZZ is probably not ready to meet a ransom demand.
The NZZ was the victim of a so-called ransomware attack. This is a special type of cyber attack in which IT systems and data are encrypted in order to blackmail companies. Security experts advise against paying the ransom. So that it doesn’t pay off for the cyber criminals to blackmail victims.
That speaks for the NZZ. According to Ruef, there are signs that she will not allow herself to be blackmailed. «I only have access to information that is publicly available. However, it is becoming apparent that the NZZ is probably not prepared to meet a ransom demand. That means she needs to address this issue in real time.”
That explains why the NZZ is still fighting the cyber attack two weeks later. When asked, the NZZ itself did not deny that it was being blackmailed.
Hundreds of billions in damages worldwide
Such cyber attacks cost time and money. In Switzerland, economic losses run into the millions every year. Worldwide there are even hundreds of billions.
That’s why other media companies, but also small and medium-sized companies, should learn from such cyber attacks, says Ruef. “Cybersecurity has to be taken seriously.” Digital transformation is not possible without cyber security. “At the management level, you sometimes see things a little differently and maybe think more in terms of quarterly figures.”
And this despite the fact that the federal government assumes that cyber attacks in Switzerland have more than doubled in the last two years. Around every third SME in Switzerland falls victim to a cyber attack. So the NZZ is not an isolated case.