For scientific journalists, the Eurekalert website equals their own Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media network that you can’t go a day without. The website is the brainchild of the American Association for Advancement of Science, and it is the place to go for press releases about the latest scientific findings that users can look forward to. They can also get aggregate material about scientific journals, research institutes and so much more.
For the established and well known science journalists, they also have the opportunity to sign up to the news before it gets to become . . . news. The right login details are needed and after that you get free access to the press releases, and in some scenarios, free research papers will be available for a week before they can be accessed by the public. All you have to do is to accept an embargo to publish the information until a certain date and time.
However something happened late Tuesday night which saw the disappearance of the site from the Internet. For visitors of the website they would get a message which noted that the site had been hacked, and the hackers were releasing embargoed press releases.
From what it looks like, only two journals were taken from the site before the administration gained back control. And it looks like the hackers might not have any knowledge of scientific journals and research judging on the information that was leaked. The Eurekalert home page currently has a notification which reads that the site is taking the step as a cautionary measure. The notification also reiterates the importance of security for the website.
They noted a September 11 hack that they had received and of a potential breach to the system. The website’s research noted that there had been an aggressive hack which happened on September 9th and had resulted in the hackers acquiring an embargoed Eurekalert news release. Therefore the site has decided to shut down the service to protect other embargoed releases.
The various universities and journalists who make use of the site have to pay for it, but luckily no payment information was taken as a result of the hack. Journalists however have to note that their login credentials had been taken which probably meant if they used the same password on other sites, then they might be vulnerable.
The motivation for the hackers to get into the website is unknown at the moment but it is believed that they might have just wanted to release some of the embargoed information.