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Services Return After SPL Cyberattack: E-books Remain Offline | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

Amid the setbacks from the SPL cyberattack, the Seattle Public Library has managed to restore some digital services. Patrons can now access the event calendar and online versions of major newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

Additionally, Hoopla, a digital media borrowing service, is operational, though users may need to log out and back in or reinstall the app if they encounter issues.

However, access to e-books remains disrupted. Patrons can choose to delay the delivery of their Libby holds, which offers a workaround to maintain access to held items when the service resumes fully.

The Seattle Public Library (SPL) faced a ransomware attack that crippled its computer systems this week.

On May 28, libraries across South Seattle were noticeably quiet, with signs informing patrons that all computer services were down. This included not only the physical computer terminals and printing services but also the in-building Wi-Fi, crucial for many library users.

The SPL Cyberattack and Immediate Response

The ransomware attack was detected early in the morning of Saturday, May 25, just one day before planned maintenance on a server over the Memorial Day weekend. The SPL cyberattack impacted several critical services, including staff and public computers, the online catalog and loaning system, e-books and e-audiobooks, and the library’s website.

Upon discovering the attack, SPL quickly engaged third-party forensic specialists and contacted law enforcement. The library took all its systems offline to prevent further damage and assess the situation.

“We are working as quickly and diligently as we can to confirm the extent of the impacts and restore full functionality to our systems,” library officials said. Ensuring the privacy and security of patron and employee information remains a top priority, and systems will stay offline until their security can be guaranteed.

SPL officials have been transparent about the ongoing nature of the investigation and restoration efforts. Although they have not provided an estimated time for when all services will be fully restored, they have promised regular updates. “Securing and restoring our systems is where we are focused,” they emphasized, expressing regret for the inconvenience and thanking the community for its patience and understanding.

The Broader Impact of Library Cyberattacks

Ransomware attacks on public libraries have become increasingly common, posing severe operational challenges. The London Public Library’s December attack forced the closure of three branches—Carpenter, Lambeth, and Glanworth—until January 2. This incident highlighted the vulnerability of public institutions to cyber threats and the significant disruption such attacks can cause to community services.

Similarly, the National British Library faced a major outage in October 2023 that initially seemed like a technical glitch but rapidly escalated into a widespread disruption. This affected online systems, including the website and onsite services such as public Wi-Fi and phone lines. The library’s operational challenges were compounded by the extent of the services impacted, which underscored the critical nature of cybersecurity for public knowledge institutions.

Moving Forward

As SPL works to recover from the ransomware attack, the incident highlights the importance of enhanced cybersecurity measures for public libraries. These institutions are pivotal in providing access to information and services to the community, and disruptions can have far-reaching consequences.

Library officials continue to prioritize restoring full functionality and ensuring the security of their systems. The community awaits further updates, hopeful for a swift resolution to regain full access to the valuable resources the Seattle Public Library offers.

In the meantime, patrons are encouraged to use the limited digital services available and to stay informed through the library’s updates on their website and social media channels.


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National Cyber Security