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AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File

Forget President Trump's Twitter terrorism against big media companies. The real and urgent web-world threats that could truly bring down a New York Times or CNN are the escalating cyberattacks targeting media and the companies they rely on.

Why it matters: The entire digital ecosystem is far more vulnerable to cyberattacks — and far more ill-prepared to respond — than we realize. "A large part of this too comes from the fact that media companies are not at all prepared for these threats and the impact isn't always obvious until it's too late," says Asaf Cidon, CEO of cybersecurity firm Barracuda networks.

  • Last week, WPP, the global ad agency, and its subsidiary agencies were forced to shut down after a ransomware attack made their systems completely inoperable.
  • The day after the attack, Fastly, a content distribution network that acts as a backup for several mainstream media sites, like Reddit, The New York Times and Axios, went down due to an unrelated technical malfunction, leaving client websites vulnerable as a global ransomware attack was in motion.
  • In April, Google and Facebook, the two biggest tech giants globally, announced that they were the subject of a phishing scam worth over $100 million. And they have way better tech and security than conventional media companies.
  • Last October, a DDOS (bot-based) attack shut down half of the internet, including major media companies, like the Guardian, CNN and Twitter.

Even more pressing: As media organizations become more centralized through consolidation, security experts and safeguards get moved up the chain from the local level to far-flung city headquarters, leaving local outlets more vulnerable.

Be smart: Bone up on phishing attacks (a common and effective cyber-scam used to gain access to sensitive data through harmless click-here emails). Google sent journalists precautionary warnings of state-sponsored phishing attacks earlier this year.

Go deeper

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest later Saturday, per AP.

Kenosha shooting lawsuit accuses police of coordinating with militia

Police and protesters confront in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Aug. 25, 2020. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The only survivor of a fatal shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests last year has accused law enforcement in a lawsuit of conspiring with a "band of white nationalist vigilantes," the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Of note: Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, is due to stand trial on Nov. 1, accused of wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, who filed the suit, and killing two other people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 25, 2020. He's pleaded not guilty to charges including homicide and attempted homicide and maintains he fired in self-defense.

6 hours ago - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.