Tor.com Suffers Unexplained Outages

Tor.com usually has up to a dozen new posts a day. However, even while their social media (Twitter, Facebook) continues to announce new posts on the site, when I click on them all links lead to the Newsletter signup page. Nothing else is accessible. No explanation has been given by Tor.com’s social media outlets.

The situation attracted the attention of Reddit’s r/Fantasy forum (“What happens at tor.com?”), where the response suggests that amid the general interruption service has intermittently resumed.

Beginning last week there were reports that Macmillan, of which Tor.com is a part, was the subject of a cyberattack, interfering with some systems, and causing the company to unilaterally shut down many of its other systems. One such report dated July 1 is “US publisher Macmillan confirms cyberattack forced systems offline” from TechCrunch (reposted by Yahoo!)

Macmillan spokesperson Erin Coffey told TechCrunch that the company recently experienced a “security incident” that “involved the encryption of certain files on our network.” The attack struck the company on June 25, according to reports, and also impacted its U.K. branch, known as Pan Macmillan.

While the company declined to answer further questions on the nature of the incident or how its systems were compromised, the use of encryption by the hackers indicates that it was ransomware. The attack has not yet been claimed by any major ransomware groups, and it remains unclear whether any sensitive data was stolen.

“As a precautionary measure, we immediately took systems offline to prevent further impact to our network,” Coffey added. “We are working diligently with specialists to investigate the source of this issue, understand its impact on our systems, and to restore full functionality to our networks as soon as possible.

“Customers and other third-party partners may notice that certain systems are unavailable while these efforts are underway. Please know that the Macmillan team is working around the clock on this restoration and installation of additional network safeguards.”

Macmillan editor Grace Kendall tweeted on June 27 that the company also closed its virtual and physical offices in New York.

Here are several tweets showing when people have raised questions about Tor.com being interrupted, or being back online.

20 thoughts on “Tor.com Suffers Unexplained Outages

  1. Tor being down seems to be variable. I usually visit at least once a day and this was the first day I got a 404 error. While no new articles have been up since June 30, I could post comments on existing articles.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. I hope they get everything back up soon! It would be good if they at least put a notice up instead of the newsletter page.

  3. I’m not a regular visitor to Tor.com. but this report is no surprise. in the wake of the previously reported Macmillan security breach.

    Remember, Macmillan is the umbrella imprint for all of Bertelsmann AG;s US publishing efforts, Aside from Macmillan itself and Tor, imprints include St. Martin;s Press, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Flatiron Books, Metropliitan Books, Henry Holt & Co., Picador and others.

    You can assume all were affected.

    Dennis

  4. I get a login popup when I go to tor.com
    When I click ‘cancel’, I get a 401 Authorization Required page, which I guess is better than a 404 page?

  5. I got a notice of new comments on a thread I follow this afternoon (usually the daily notices come in the early AM) – but the link takes me to a login page.

  6. I just attempted to go to the site. I get a box asking for my username and password. While I have an account on the site to facilitate comments on articles, when I use those I just get the box again. I tried a few alternate spellings and my e-mail address rather than my username and get the same result. I attempted to go through the macmillan site, which does come up, and still get the box.

    Hopefully all the accounts have not been wiped and the access problem is still being corrected.

  7. @Pierre E. Pettinger, Jr.:

    I suspect that the login page that we’re seeing is for site administrators, not users.

  8. Remember, Macmillan is the umbrella imprint for all of Bertelsmann AG;s US publishing efforts, Aside from Macmillan itself and Tor, imprints include St. Martin;s Press, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Flatiron Books, Metropliitan Books, Henry Holt & Co., Picador and others.

    The parent company is actually Verlagsgruppe Holtzbrinck, but otherwise you’re correct.

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