Hackers are currently holding at ransom all the 700 computers used in all the branches of the St. Louis public library in appears to be one of the most severe ransomware attacks; it has been reported.
According to the spokesperson of the city’s library, Jen Hatton, the entire computer system of the public library is currently grounded, with the hackers demanding that the management of the library pays up to $35,000 in Bitcoin for decryption keys.
‘The entire checkout system of the library is currently not working, meaning that our clients cannot access the millions of books, magazines, journals and other materials that we keep,’ she said.
The FBI, while confirming the incident, was not ready to divulge more details about the incident. However, the Bureau indicated that it was helping the management of St. Louis public library to deal with the situation.
However, it has been reported that the management of the city’s library system has refused to give in to the demands of the criminals that they pay ransom money.
It appears that the management of the library is keen on rebuilding its computer systems from scratch rather than paying the criminals the $35,000 they had asked as ransom.
If the management of the city’s public library system remains adamant and goes ahead with its plan of rebuilding its computer system, it means that many people in the city will miss the services of the public library for a few weeks.
The city’s public library serves a very important function in the city, with many students and the urban poor depending on it as the only source of access to the internet.
‘Many of our clients depend on us as the only means that they can use to access the internet,’ Hatton said.
For the urban poor and students who cannot afford data plans even if they own smartphones, it means that they will have to do without the free Wi-Fi network that they library provides for them for the time that it will take to rebuild the computer system.
This current attack comes at a time when hackers have been increasingly carrying out ransomware attacks. It has been reported that cyber criminals have been increasingly targeting schools and other public institutions using ransomware attacks. Once the criminals manage to get hold of the computers of their target organisation, they find it easy to arm-twist their victims to paying them ransom money before they release the decryption keys.
In the St. Louis public library attack, the criminals managed to access a centralised server of the library, thus crippling the staff email system in the process.