InstantNewsBellaire was “hacked” over the weekend, leaving readers receiving warning messages that the news site was infected with an apparent virus.
Some readers encountered the warning while others did not, depending on which Internet browser was being used.
IT staffers for Neighborhood Media, the parent company of InstantNewsBellaire, worked most of Sunday and much of Monday repairing the problem.
Neighborhood Media Editorial Director John Pape said the problem occurred after the virus was attached to an ad server that generates some of the new site’s advertising copy.
“Someone attached malicious script to our ad server, which triggered warnings to people trying to access the site. As far as we are aware, no virus or malicious content was passed on to readers logging on to our site, and no content on our site was lost,” Pape said.
Although the malicious coding has been removed, Pape said it may take a number of hours for all the warning messages to be cleared.
“Some users may continue to get warnings for a while because our site first must be tested and cleared by outside entities such as Google before the warnings are lifted,” he said.
In addition to InstantNewsBellaire, Neighborhood Media’s other news sites – FortBendNow, InstantNewsKaty and InstantNewsWestU – were also affected.
Pape also said the company would continue to investigate the source of the malicious code and will take legal action if it is determined the sites were infected intentionally.
“We are continuing to investigate the origin of the problematic code,” Pape said. “If we determine it was intentionally and maliciously attached to our site, we will pursue civil and criminal legal remedies against those responsible.”
As of late Monday, all problems appeared to have been corrected, according to Neighborhood Media Director of Operations Shaun Nowacki. He said that by 2 p.m. Google had sent out the following “all-clear” message: “Status of the latest badware review for this site – a review for this site has finished. The site was found clean. The badware warnings from Web search are being removed. Please note that it can take some time for this change to propagate.”
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