Editors at the University of Ottawa’s student newspaper, The Fulcrum, were treated to an unpleasant surprise late Saturday night when all of the content on their website had been deleted and replaced with a single post making fun of the hack.
The one article left showed a photo of an unknown man giving the middle finger to the camera with the headline: “Anti-union rag gets its entire website DELETED.”
“It was a huge shock, everyone was in a bit of a panic,” said Matt Gergyek, editor-in-chief of The Fulcrum.
According to Gergyek, as the newspaper is run by students, the majority of the staff are gone during the summer months with a skeleton crew of editors and freelancers there to update the web. The president and general manager were in Ottawa at the time.
Gergyek himself is in Hamilton for the summer and was out with friends in Toronto when he learned about the hack from a staffer in Saskatchewan.
“She said, ‘I think something is up with the site,'” said Gergyek. “I was in a shawarma restaurant in Toronto when I saw it. I took a quick Uber home and began locking down everything.”
“Everything” according to Gergyek being the site itself which is hosted on WordPress, and all social media.
According to Gergyek, everything was gone from the back end of the website, even the trash can had been emptied which essentially means there was no immediate way to recover the data.
Luckily, the website’s host came to the rescue. According to Gergyek, the company that hosts the site had an emergency back-up on their end that they could implement, though it’s dated from the end of April.
While the setback isn’t great, Gergyek says it could have been worse, and with the rough drafts of the stories still intact, the stories should be back up on the site in the coming weeks.
“It’s one of the best outcomes that could have happened and we’re very thankful for that,” Gergyek said.
Ottawa police say the investigation into the incident is ongoing, and according to an Ottawa police spokesperson, whoever allegedly perpetrated the hack could face charges of mischief and unauthorized use of a computer.
As for The Fulcrum, Gergyek says they have no idea who could have done the hack but they aren’t so much interested in punishing the perpetrator, but rather making sure this type of incident doesn’t happen again.
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