Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Kentucky, which owns the Jonesboro Sun, the Batesville Guard, the Daily Citizen of Searcy and other Arkansas newspapers, suffered a cyber attack that potentially compromised employees’ birthdates, Social Security numbers and banking data.
The newspaper chain, which has been in acquisition mode, owns a total of 120 publications across 14 states, including the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, the Courier in Russellville and the Paragould Daily Press. Its flagship paper is the Paducah Sun.
In May, it acquired Landmark Community Newspapers LLC of Shelbyville, Kentucky, and all of its 47 papers.
Current and former Paxton employees received a “notice of data privacy event,” and the hacking event was also reported to state consumer protection officials by Mullen Coughlin, a Pennsylvania law firm representing Paxton.
The notice said that Paxton Media Group, which brands itself as PMG, identified suspicious activity on its computer systems in March and opened an investigation that determined the company was the victim of a cyber attack that allowed “an unauthorized actor” to copy information from the system between Feb. 26 and March 20.
The PMG inquiry found that information on current and former employees was in the compromised systems, and that while specific details vary for each affected individual, “the scope of the information potentially includes individuals’ name, date of birth, Social Security number, driver’s license number or state ID number, financial account and/or routing number, health insurance information, taxpayer identification numbers, and credit card numbers and/or expiration dates.”
The company mailed notices to employees and former employees who were subject to the breach. It also said that it has enhanced security to protect its system, and will continue to investigate “the full nature and scope of the incident.” Paxton has also initiated additional employee training.
Mark Elliott, a group publisher for Paxton who leads the media group’s papers in Conway, Russellville, Batesville, Heber Springs and Clinton, told Arkansas Business he couldn’t comment on the breach, directing questions to Paxton’s home office.
A call to the chain’s Paducah headquarters was directed to the voicemail of Eric Rudolph, vice president and director of human resources, but he did not immediately return the call.
Attorney M. Alexandra Belton of Mullen Coughlin, the Devon, Pennsylvania law firm representing Paxton, said in a letter to consumer protection officials that the company was providing guidance to affected people on how to protect themselves against identity theft and fraud.
“Paxton is also providing individuals whose Social Security number is affected with complimentary access to twelve (12) months of complimentary credit monitoring, as well as information on how to place a fraud alert and security freeze on one’s credit file,” Belton wrote.
“Paxton will also be notifying the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, as well as other relevant state regulators.”
Belson didn’t immediately reply to a telephone message seeking comment.