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Ransomware attack forces Seattle Public Library systems offline | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


The Seattle Public Library was hit with a ransomware attack over weekend and forced take its systems offline at all 27 locations throughout the city.

In response to the attack, the library said it immediately reached out to third-party cybersecurity specialists, contacted law enforcement and took its systems fully offline to prevent any further disruption or breach of its data.

The library had been preparing to take its systems offline for planned maintenance of the server over Memorial Day weekend when the cyberattack occurred early Saturday morning, according to a Wednesday blog post to its website, which was brought back online shortly after the incident.

“As you likely saw, we were able to bring back our website overnight and a few digital services, but there is a lot that is still impacted we continue to work on, including e-book access, computers, Wi-Fi, printing and more,” Laura Gentry, a spokesperson for the library, told StateScoop in an emailed statement. “We’re continuing to post operational updates to our blog as we make progress.”

Gentry said that due to the ongoing investigation, the library can’t confirm if data was compromised or when it will be able to restore full functionality to its systems. Part of that restoration includes technology services, such as e-books and e-audiobooks, computers, Wi-Fi, printing and other digital services.

“Privacy and security of patron and employee information are top priorities, until we can ensure the security of these systems, they will remain offline,” the blog post stated. “We do not yet have an estimated time of resolution but will update you here as we are able to bring systems back online.”

Sitting on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington with a population of roughly 737,000, according to the 2020 census. That year, the city’s public library recorded 4.9 million in-person visits to its locations and 12.4 million visits to its online website and catalog.

The library said its physical locations are still open to members of the public, who can still access its physical collection of books, CDs, DVDs and audiobooks on location, but cannot check out or check back in any materials while its system is down.

“We are an organization that prides itself on providing you answers, and we are sorry that the information we can share is limited,” the library’s blog post reads. “At this time, securing and restoring our systems is where we are focused.”

This is the second cyberattack to strike a public library system in the past month.

In April, the Solano Partner Libraries and St. Helena network announced that their Wi-Fi service, phone lines and computer services were down at all locations and that virtual programs were canceled after administrators noticed suspicious network activity. It’s still unclear whether the disruption is linked to a April 5 ransomware attack, when hackers breached the county library network, which uses a cloud storage system separate from the rest of Solano County, and threatened to release stolen data unless the county paid a $100,000 ransom.


Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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