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Software Used by Hundreds of Museums Taken Down by Ransomware Attack | #ransomware | #cybercrime


If you’re having trouble accessing the online collections at a museum, blame it on ransomware.

A major museum software provider called Gallery System suffered a ransomware attack last week, according to BleepingComputer. “On Thursday, December 28, 2023, certain computer systems that run our software became encrypted, which prevented them from operating,” Gallery Systems told clients in an email message. 

The attack has caused the New York-based company to take down its IT systems to prevent the ransomware from encrypting the rest of its computers. As a result, access to the company’s eMuseum platform, which lets people search and view a museum’s collections online, appears to have shut down. 

The disruption could be large-scale since Gallery System says it supports more than 800 clients in over 31 countries. Of those, 260 clients are active eMuseum operators. The online collections at places including the The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Pennsylvania, and the Frick Collection in New York appear to be down. 

The New York Times also reports that some museums have lost access to a Gallery Systems program called TMS, which can hold sensitive information such as donors, loan agreements, and the storage locations of priceless artworks. It’s unclear if the hackers gained access to the TMS system, but ransomware gangs typically operate by stealing sensitive information and then using it to pressure victims into paying their demands.

Gallery Systems didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But in the company’s message to clients, the museum software provider said it planned on restoring customer data using “the last available backup.”

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In the meantime, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston told PCMag: “The ongoing issue with Gallery Systems’ eMuseum service does not impact non-public data about the MFA’s collection, which is hosted on internal systems.”

“All confidential information remains secure, including donor data, artwork values and storage locations,” the museum added. “None of these details are provided to or available to eMuseum. The only impact to the MFA is to the public collections search function on the Museum’s website, which is currently offline. The vendor has not provided a timeline for the collection search to return.”

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