St. Louis public libraries struck by ransomware

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It will be some time before all library services are back up and running.

We’ve spoken often about the importance of vigilance when it comes to your online security and well-being. Hackers are getting more and more brazen in their attempts to separate you from your money or personal information. Even Google’s bread and butter ad platform may not be immune to malicious code these days. Public libraries in St. Louis, Missouri are the latest to be compromised, with ransomware grinding their entire network to a screeching halt.

The attack has affected 700 computers throughout the city’s 16 public libraries, and the attackers have asked for $35,000 in Bitcoin (of course) to unlock the computer systems. It is believed that the attack came through one of the cities servers, and it did not appear to have propagated from any of the workstations. Employee email has also been frozen and is off limits after the attack. City officials have stated that they will not be paying the ransom, and will instead format and reinstall each and every one of those computers from scratch. I’m sure their IT administrators are already dreading the work that will likely take weeks to complete.

The attack was discovered last Thursday, and by Friday the city had at least regained control of their servers. The uphill battle to get everything back to normal is still going to take some time. As of right now, borrowing services are back up, meaning residents can check out and return books. Lab computers are still obviously down, an issue that disproportionately affects schoolchildren who rely on the library for research and schoolwork and the poor, who cannot afford internet access.

The library’s executive director, Waller McGuire expressed his displeasure with the whole situation in a statement:

The real victims of this criminal attack are the Library’s patrons. SLPL has worked hard to open a secure but widely available digital world to the people of St. Louis, and I am sorry it was interrupted. An attempt to hold information and access to the world for ransom is deeply frightening and offensive to any public library, and we will make every effort to keep that world available to our patrons.

Some services, including Wi-Fi, are back online for the moment, but it will be some time before all library services are back up and running.

Have you been affected by the attack on the St. Louis public libraries? Let us know in the comment section below or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

  Source: The Guardian  Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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