A ransom demand is said to have been received by Funke-Mediengruppe

Headquarters of the Funke media group in Essen

The media group fell victim to a hacking attack. After almost a week, it continues unabated.

(Photo: imago / epd)

Essen, Düsseldorf The hacking attack on the Funke media group continues – and employs numerous cybercrime investigators. Specialists from the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) are investigating the case with a special organizational structure (BAO) of the Essen police. Andreas Tyrock, editor-in-chief of the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), which belongs to the Funke group, writes in an editorial on his own account that appeared on Monday in e-paper and in a printed edition of the newspaper that the attack from last week was “enormous” currently “undiminished hard”.

Several systems are still not ready for use nationwide. “To prevent further damage to the technology, all IT systems were shut down,” writes Tyrock. The perpetrators broke into the IT systems of the Funke media group last Tuesday and encrypted them. So far it was unclear whether it was an attempt at blackmail.

Indeed it should but now a ransom note according to WDR information in the form of the digital currency Bitcoin. The Funke media group and the Cybercrime Central and Contact Point (ZAC) at the public prosecutor’s office do not want to comment on this.

All major Funke media group locations across Germany are affected by the attacks, for example in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Berlin. The Funke media group includes twelve regional newspapers, including the “Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung” (WAZ), the “Berliner Morgenpost”, the “Thüringer Allgemeine” and the “Hamburger Abendblatt”.

The newspapers are currently “built by hand”, writes WAZ editor-in-chief Tyrock, who thanked his employees for their commitment over the holidays. “All texts and headings are coordinated word for word in telephone calls between the media designers and the editorial team, and photos are incorporated in a very complex process.”

Phones and PCs are paralyzed by the attack

The editors-in-chief of other titles in the group also addressed the readers directly: For example, Jörg Riebartsch, editor-in-chief of the Ostthüringer Zeitung (OTZ), reports of the massive difficulties in newspaper production: “We cannot make phone calls via our own telephone system, we cannot receive e-mails and we only have a few current local texts in the output.”

He had never experienced such a disaster in the decades of his professional life. According to Riebartsch, “it will take some time before we can return to normal conditions”.

Since the newspapers only appear in a significantly reduced, but again steadily increasing, volume, the Funke media group has currently made all paid content freely available on its website in order to inform readers.

With agency material.

More: How companies should proceed now to limit damage from cyber attacks


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