Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 4

County Library Ransom Attack

Ransomware attacks devastated the Contra Costa libraries on the 3rd of January, completely shattering the online network throughout all of the 26 libraries. Although no Wi-Fi and printing services are available in most libraries, the Library is making progress on them. When one goes to some of the library websites, the first thing that pops up is a message: “Our network is currently down and patrons are unable to login at this time. We are investigating the issue and will establish service as soon as possible.” Even some of the affected library servers have been taken offline. Officials working on getting the library system to work have been looking over the data that was comprised by the hack. To assure the public that they are taking the proper steps, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia made a public statement, and said, “obviously we want to protect all of our residents, and having an illegal break-in to the county’s library system is a serious and criminal matter.” 

Also, the library’s statement said that the Contra Costa Libraries are working with law enforcement and IT experts to get information and prevent any future attacks. While some of the online reserves are not working, people are still able to check out and return material and use the public computers. The Contra Costa Library system has restored most of the services, but printing services are not available. There has been no evidence that any personal data was compromised. The Contra Costa Library made a statement which said that they only collect names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and birth dates, not social security numbers or information of credit card payment. The county wants to protect all of its residents, and they understand that the illegal break-in to the county’s library system is a serious criminal matter. 

Brooke Converse, spokeswoman for the library system, said the internal emailing system is still down. She is optimistic of IT experts restoring all of the services and also is relieved that there has not been another attack since January 3rd. Services that have been so far restored include California Driver Education, New York Times digital, public desktop computers with internet access, and Rosetta Stone. However, the library card users cannot get into the Library’s website to search or check out books. An update has also been posted by the library’s website, which says, “The Library is fine free. No library materials will accrue overdue fines. Materials more than 30 days past due will be charged a replacement fee.”

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