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Newspaper site pulls plug after 'sustained' hack attack

'Crisis management'

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South African newspaper The Mail & Guardian pulled down its website on Wednesday to protect readers against “sustained attacks” that attempted to infect them with malware.

Online editor Chris Roper told The New Age that the hackers had been conducting phishing attacks on the site and the worry was that someone would be duped. He said he hoped to have the site back online in the next 36 hours. The site remained inaccessible at time of writing.

“We are in crisis management to get the site up,” he was quoted as saying. “We've been combating them for a week or so but we got to the point now where we don't want to compromise our users.”

In a series of tweets, Editor Nic Dawes said the attacks came from Russia and caused his site to carry “scams, malware, etc.” He said his paper's “code warriors are making good progress cleaning out the bad guys, with help from the inevitable Red Bull and Pizza.”

Representatives of the paper have yet to say how the hackers got in.

The attack comes as malware pushers and other scammers have stepped up attacks on legitimate websites over the past few years. Once upon a time, they set up dedicated sites to infect unwitting end users, but as Google and other services have gotten better at identifying such threats, criminals have increasingly turned to popular websites with security weaknesses. ®

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